Transportation company fined after fatal fall from lorry

A transportation company has been fined almost half a million pounds after a driver fell from the lorry he was unloading and later died.

Christopher Barnes, 69, from Middlesbrough, was making deliveries for Devereux Developments Limited, of Daimler Drive, Billingham, in his curtain-sided HGV.

While unloading the vehicle at Cotswold Doors Limited, Fairford, on 23 April 2018, he climbed onto the lorry bed, and then the load, to untangle securing straps.

He fell more than 7ft from the lorry on to a concrete floor, was injured and died the following day from his injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not have in place a safe system of work for work at height on vehicles because it had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

The company should have identified and implemented suitable control measures to reduce the risks to their drivers during unloading operations.

Devereux Developments Limited, of Daimler Drive, Billingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The company was fined £480,000* (*see Editor’s note 4 below) and ordered to pay costs of £12,053 at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court on June 28 2022.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Pippa Trimble said: “A safe system of work should have been in place, and this shows that even large, well-established companies can get things wrong.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
  3. HSE news releases are available at:
  4. The fine of £480,000 was reduced on appeal at Cirencester Magistrates’ Court on 22 December 2022 to £400,000.