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Transport firm fined £500,000 after woman crushed between two lorries

18 March 2015

A Cheshire-based transport company has been fined £500,000 after a Hull employee suffered horrific injuries when she was crushed between two lorries.

Warwick Crown Court heard on 16 March that Jennifer Rose was lucky to be alive after the incident at Tip Trailer Services’ Griff Lane depot in Nuneaton on 9 April 2013.

Mrs Rose, 38, who now lives in Hull, broke 13 bones in her back, shoulders and ribs, and punctured a lung. The incident left her with severe head injuries, impaired vision and she required a tracheotomy. She suffered a cardiac arrest and was in intensive care for 10 days.

Mrs Rose, who has a young son, needed to wear a body brace for four months and was confined to a wheelchair for some months although has since regained some mobility. She still requires weekly physiotherapy.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Mrs Rose was acting as a banksman, assisting a lorry driver to reverse park on a slope, at the time of the incident. The driver decoupled his trailer without engaging its parking brake, causing it to roll back and trap her between the two vehicles.

The investigation found TIP Trailer Services regularly allowed vehicles to park on a slope without the provision of chocks or similar devices. The company had no monitoring system to check whether drivers were applying their handbrakes properly.

The slope ended on a public road, so the risks were not just to pedestrians on site but also to passing pedestrians and drivers.

TIP Europe, of Market Street, Altrincham, Cheshire, trading as Tip Trailer Services, pleaded guilty to two breaches of Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined a total of £500,000 and ordered to pay a further £56,938 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Elizabeth Hornsby said: "Mrs Rose suffered severe life-changing injuries. Her family was told she would not survive the night but due to her level of physical fitness and her sheer determination she has fought back and is now on the road to recovery.

"It was common practice for drivers to park on a slope within the compound, which should never have been allowed as it was inevitable that sooner or later a driver would fail to put on their handbrake. This totally avoidable incident could and should have been prevented with nothing more than common sense.”