Accidents involving HGH or Lorry Drivers

Accident Compensation for Lorry and HGV Drivers

Driving a 44 tonne articulated vehicle is clearly a job that has risks. Even smaller 7.5 tonne lorries are dangerous. In the working year 2009/10 alone, accidents involving lorries caused 2 deaths, 79 major injuries and 249 injuries that took over 3 days for recovery.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees to keep them safe whilst at work. 

Keeping safe when driving

Although lorry drivers are usually very experienced drivers they are still at risk of being involved in road traffic accidents. Not only could they cause one through inattentiveness or mechanical failure but they can also be the victims of other road user's actions. One of our lorry driver clients suffered soft tissue injuries to his back, shoulder and neck when a van pulled into his path. He was awarded £8,500 in compensation.
Experience sometimes makes drivers and their employers complacent, as another HGV driver found much to his cost. Having worked in the industry for 30 years he was asked to drive an unfamiliar vehicle. When he arrived at the depot he climbed on the tank in order to disconnect the electrical connections between to the trailer. For this particular lorry it was not necessary to climb on the tank to disconnect the electrics. He slipped, damaging his kneecap and he was awarded £5,000 in compensation. This accident could have been prevented if he had been provided with sufficient training on the uncoupling procedure.

Accidents whilst making deliveries

Once the driver has arrived on site, there are further dangers to contend with. Loads, if improperly secured in transit, can shift and potentially fall on the driver whilst unloading. One driver was awarded £6000 in compensation for broken teeth when a buckle, swinging on a loose strap, hit him as he opened the rear doors.
Delivery yards can also be a source of accidents. Drivers reversing unexpectedly or without guidance can not only result in damage to vehicles and property, it could also result in injuries and death. 
Tail lifts and steps need to be used correctly to avoid injury. One driver was awarded £24,000 for loss of earnings when his vehicle was equipped with folding steps that were too long for it. He was unable to unfold them fully and tripped, exacerbating a back injury and requiring him to leave work. 

So what are employers’ responsibilities?

Employers, regardless of the number of employees, have to ensure the health and safety of their employees and members of the public.
They have an obligation to undertake a risk assessment of all areas of health and safety and to put in place measures to minimise the risks identified. They also need to inform employees of the risks identified, and provide sufficient training and equipment to deal with the risks. This may include such measures as:
  • Segregating pedestrian traffic, warehouse traffic and deliveries
  • Providing banksmen or marshalls to oversee reversing operations;
  • Clearly marking where vehicles should be parked and ensuring such areas at well-lit and well-surfaced;
  • Ensuring drivers are trained in the coupling and uncoupling of the vehicles they are expected to drive and that parking brakes in both cab and trailer are always utilised;
  • Ensuring maintenance schedules are adhered to
  • Ensuring drivers have sufficient assistance when loading and unloading in the depots
Employers also have a legal obligation to consult with their employees on matters of health and safety. In unionised workplaces this will be done through the health and safety representatives of the union. If the workplace is not unionised then the employer must consult directly, ensuring they listen to their employees concerns and providing information in a timely manner.

What about employees?

Employees have to co-operate with employers to safeguard the health and safety of themselves, their colleagues and the general public. For example:
  • Following training and requesting training on unfamiliar equipment;
  • Obeying site rules, especially as regards reversing and parking;
  • Reporting vehicle defects;
  • Taking breaks as required by law;
  • Not working when ill.

Unfamiliar Workplaces

Site managers need to ensure that visiting delivery drivers are clear what the site rules are and, in the case where site workers are loading a trailer, drivers need to ensure that they know who is responsible for correctly loading and securing the trailer. 
Attention to detail and a full commitment to health and safety best practice should help prevent many accidents to HGV drivers, but sadly, there will always be cases where something goes wrong. When things do go wrong lorry drivers and workers may be able to make a claim for compensation. 

Contact your personal injury partner today and let use take the hassle out of your claim

01782 608 744
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