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RS Henderson trial enters critical stage

IN THE trial of Yell based haulier RS Henderson, Lerwick Sheriff Court explored the extent to which a driver had received detailed work instructions prior to a tragic fatal accident.

The Cullivoe based firm is accused of failing to make a suitable risk assessment prior to lorry driver Geoffrey Davies being crushed to death by a forklift truck he unloaded at a mussel factory, in Baltasound, on 13 February 2010.

The company also deny failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees between 9 and 13 February 2010.

On Monday the court heard that Davies, of Scraefield, Unst, had driven the forklift down lorry ramps which were “too steep and slippery” to maintain traction.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Steven Henderson of the family business was cross-examined by procurator fiscal Gavin Callahan as to whether 57 year old Davies had received “specific instructions”.

Henderson said: “I think I would have told him to pick it up in the same way we have done previously, and then to collect the salmon feed.”

The fiscal asked: “Did you routinely give instructions as to loads?”

Henderson replied: “It is yes and no, depending on what the job was” adding that drivers would get instructions as to when and where, and how to load.

Callahan said it appeared to him that Henderson’s evidence contradicted a statement he had made to an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a few weeks after the accident.

He warned Henderson that he was under oath in a criminal trial and that his evidence had to be “crystal clear”.

The fiscal then read from the transcript of the HSE interview in which Henderson said that he had just given Davies directions where to pick up the forklift.

Henderson continued that “based on my and his experience” he felt that Davies was capable of undertaking the task without further advice as he had done such a job four times before.

The fiscal then asked the court for the original tape with the interview to be played to the jury as Henderson’s evidence was “critical” to the court proceedings.

The trial continues.