Aberdeenshire Council overhauled its health and safety guidelines after one of its employees was accidentally run over by a lorry at work, a fatal accident inquiry has been told.
William Black, 55, was crushed by a reversing lorry as he carried out road repairs near Turriff in January 2016.
On the third day of a fatal accident inquiry into his death, the local authority’s roads and landscapes manager for Buchan and Formartine, Philip Leiper, said he urgently checked the relevant policies the day after the accident.
“We found that it was still fit for purpose and it was still relevant and would have been applicable at the time,” he told Banff Sheriff Court.
More pictures in employee handbook
However, less than one month after the accident, every council roads employee was sent a document directing them to the guidance on the safe reversing of vehicles.
And one month after that the authority’s haulage sub-contractors received a letter reiterating what is expected of their workforce on council sites.
The council’s safe systems of work guidance, held within its handbook and a smaller ‘Blue Book’ for individuals, has also been updated too.
Mr Leiper added: “We have revised this document completely, including making it a more pictorial-style guide, meaning it is easier to follow. There’s no change to the content but we’ve changed how it’s presented so there are more pictures rather than it being a bit of a wordy document.
“It’s easier for people that use it to understand and refer to.”
Earlier in the week Christopher Penfold, the lorry driver cleared after a trial in 2019 of causing Mr Black’s death, told the inquiry he had never been shown a copy of either book, adding: “It’s all very well them having procedures, but it’s no good if they don’t train the people that need to know those procedures.”
‘We have added in additional checks’
Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart suggested to Mr Leiper that “books don’t read themselves” and asked if any other measures to improve worker safety had changed.
“We have added in additional checks that any hired operative will have to sign off that they have been shown and given relevant instructions on how to conduct themselves safely on site,” Mr Leiper replied.
The improvements in health and safety guidelines followed a report from the Health and Safety Executive, which highlighted “various breaches” of procedures, including the use of a digger bucket for transporting men and tools and reversing a lorry without a banksman.
The HSE’s principal inspector Niall Miller said: “In this case there was no reason for why the vehicle had to reverse. It could have been driven in the direction of travel.”
Mr Miller also insisted there was “no justification” for the council failing to share health and safety guidance with sub-contactors, such as Mr Penfold, and that there was also “evidence to suggest that the supervisor was regularly accepting deviations from the systems of work”.
The inquiry, before Sheriff Robert Frazer, is due to reconvene on June 7.