Haulage firm fined after popular Plymouth man Phillip Ring's horror death
A HAULAGE company has been fined £22,000 following the death of a popular Whitleigh man.
But RR Transport Ltd was not to blame for the death of 37-year-old plasterer Phillip Ring, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Mr Ring was crushed by a ton of plastering render during an horrific incident near Yelverton in 2009.
He was unloading the pallet when a handle snapped, sending the load crashing down on top of him.
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Cornish firm RR Transport admitted at yesterday's hearing that they failed to conduct a risk assessment for non-employees.
But the court was told that, even if the Redruth-based company had, it would not have prevented the accident.
Defence barrister Simon Antrobus pleaded guilty on behalf of the business – on basis of plea – to a non-causative count of failing to conduct assessment of risk to non-employees.
The court heard how on March 31, 2009, company driver William Palmer had been due to deliver three tons of plastering render to Yelverton Business Park, in Crapstone.
Mr Ring, a director of a plastering company, would be waiting to transfer the load to a van, the court heard.
Mr Palmer had put one of the pallets, weighing 1,260kg, on a pallet truck and pushed it towards the lorry's tail lift.
The court heard how a handle allowing him to lower the pallet and forks then "flew" out of his hand in a "split second".
Before he had chance to pull the pallet back the contents had fallen off the tail lift and landed on Mr Ring, who was standing between his van and the tail lift. Despite the best efforts of ambulance crews, Mr Ring was later pronounced dead at Derriford Hospital.
The court heard how expert evidence found that although the hinge plates in the tail lift were fractured, it was not thought they caused the accident.
The company admitted there was not a risk assessment in place for the loading and unloading of pallets, nor was there a system for drivers to follow for using tail lifts. Its tail lifts had also not been subject to legally-required inspections.
There were a number of general risk assessments in place which "touched on deliveries", the court heard, including risk to members of the public being run over, but none for the loading or unloading of goods. The company has since put new safety precautions into place.
Sentencing RR Transport, Judge Paul Darlow said the lack of relevant risk assessments did not contribute towards Mr Ring's tragic death.
"Even if the company had in place the procedures they now have, it would not have prevented the accident from occurring," he said.
He fined the company £22,000 and ordered them to pay £30,000 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Jo Fitzgerald said: "This was a tragic incident and it illustrates the significant risks involved in delivery operations. Thinking through those risks in a structured way helps delivery firms identify what could go wrong and improve safety.
"While HSE does not say that RR Transport's failings caused Mr Ring's death, by failing to assess the risks properly the company did not have a number of important steps in place, which would have made their operation safer."
Following the keen musician's death, Mr Ring's family paid tribute to a "peaceful' and "generous" man.