Warnings ‘could have saved crane operator’

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THE death of a young man who was electrocuted while making a delivery to a farm could have been prevented if better safety measures were followed, a sheriff has ruled.

Darren Taylor, 23, died after a crane he was operating to unload a shipping container struck overhead power lines.

The accident happened as he was delivering the container to North Kirktonmoor Farm in 
Eaglesham, Lanarkshire, in January 2009.

Following a fatal accident inquiry at Paisley Sheriff Court, Sheriff Derek Livingston criticised the company involved for failing to warn Mr Taylor, of Bailleston, Glasgow, of dangers at the site.

Sheriff Livingston said “clear and visible” warning signs should have been placed at the entrance to the farm’s yard and Mr Taylor should have been directed to a safe area to unload the container.

He also said Mr Taylor should have carried out his own risk assessment to avoid his crane coming near the overhead lines.

Farm owner Matthew Sawers’ company Eaglesham Industrial Services (EIS) had ordered the container, which was to be used by his sister, and Mr Taylor’s firm was sub-contracted to make the delivery.

The inquiry heard that a staff member at EIS had said there were no hazards at the site when placing the order.

The inquiry was also told that there was a warning sign on the gates giving entry to the yard, but this could not be seen when Mr Taylor arrived because the gates were open.

In his ruling, Sheriff Livingston said: “I am of the view that EIS have to accept some responsibility for the safe delivery of this container.

“The fact that the container was being utilised for personal rather than company purposes does not seem to me to be of any consequence.

“If they were going to order a container to be delivered to a workplace, which is what they did here, then it appears to me that ultimately they have responsibility for the workplace being safe.”

He added: “It seems to me that at the very least there should have been very clear signage placed at the entrance to the yard – and not simply on the gates, where such signs could not easily be seen if the gates were open – warning of the dangers of overhead wires.

“This would have been easy and might have prevented the accident, although it is extremely difficult to say, without knowing what was in Darren Taylor’s mind at the time.

“It did also seem to me, however, that with other containers under the wires, there was certainly a risk when containers were either delivered or uplifted and there should certainly have been warnings.

“There is no doubt, however, in my opinion, that had a risk 
assessment been properly carried out by Mr Taylor and then acted upon, the accident would not have occurred, since he would not have let his equipment go within 15 metres of 
the overhead wires within the yard.”

The inquiry heard that 
although Mr Sawers was the managing director of EIS at the time of Mr Taylor’s death, he was not involved in the day-to-day running of the company.

The firm was wound up in August 2011.