Company Fined After Middlesbrough Man’s Death

A North East port has been fined £400,000 after a Middlesbrough man fell 25 feet to his death at Hartlepool Dock.

Agency worker Robert Harrison, who was 59, was part of a team of six men loading steel pipes onto the hold of a ship, the Bright Ocean, when the accident took place in September 2012.

Teesside Crown Court was told that Mr Harrison and his colleagues stood on a pile of the 40-foot long pipes, which was getting higher as more pipes were loaded onto the vessel by crane.

Mr Harrison fell off the pile and landed on the deck of the ship. He was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough by helicopter with head, neck and spine injuries, but was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

PD Ports suspended operations at Hartlepool that day as a mark of respect for Mr Harrison.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, before bringing proceedings against PD Teesport Ltd for safety deficiencies at Hartlepool Dock, in Cleveland Road, Hartlepool.

Their inquiries revealed that the company had failed to take appropriate steps to  reduce the risk of a fall.

PD Teesport Limited, of Queen’s Square, Middlesbrough, was ordered to pay a fine of £400,000 plus £107,684.40 in costs after admitting charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

“Robert Harrison, a father of three, lost his life needlessly because of the failure by PD Teesport Ltd to put effective safety measures in place,” said HSE inspector Cain Mitchell after the hearing.

“This was a tragedy that could have very easily been prevented. The company should have properly assessed the risks and ensured appropriate measures were in place to reduce the risks of falling. The risk of a fall from an eight-metre stack of pipes was obvious.

“These precautions could have included the use of soft landing systems, such as an airbag or cushion, which would have ensured no significant injury could result from a fall.”

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