Distribution company’s failures led to Cornish vineyard owner’s death

The owner of a Cornish vineyard died after a delivery of empty wine bottles crashed onto him when they fell from the tail lift of a lorry he was helping to unload.

Gregory Distribution Ltd of North Park, North Tawton was fined £200,000 with £16,993 costs at Truro Crown Court today (4 August) following a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The company pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing before Bodmin Magistrates to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act by exposing someone to risk by failing to ensure adequate arrangements and procedures for the unloading of pallets.

The incident happened in April 2008, when George Musgrave, the owner of Polmassick Vineyard at St Ewe, near St Austell, was helping to unload a delivery of empty wine bottles from the back of a Gregory Distribution lorry, driven by an agency driver.

The load fell from the tail lift causing fatal head and chest injuries.

HSE Inspector, Simon Jones, said: “This tragic accident highlights the dangers involved in unloading large and heavy loads using a tail lift. Employers should ensure that employees are given the right equipment, information, instruction and training to allow them to unload loads safely.

“Where employers use the services of agency staff they should ensure that those agency staff are aware of the systems of work in place and have the skills and training to undertake the required tasks.

“Tail lifts should be examined by a competent person at least every six months to ensure that they are safe to use.

“If these simple measures had been taken then this accident would not have happened and Mr Musgrave would not have died in these tragic circumstances.”