A FATHER-of-four’s death could have been avoided had he been wearing a seatbelt after his dumper truck overturned, an inquest heard.
David Green, 32, of Little Clacton, was pulled from underneath the upturned vehicle he was driving last October with a head injury at Cox’s Hill building site in Lawford, Manningtree.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and a post mortem examination ruled the cause of death as a bleed on the brain and a skull fracture.
A jury inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court has concluded his death was accidental.
The verdict read: “The truck overturned causing him to be thrown from the vehicle which was caused by the fact he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.”
The court heard there were no mechanical faults with the nine-tonne dumper truck Mr Green was operating and its rollover protection system was correctly erected, but had to be used in tandem with a seatbelt.
The construction worker had been driving up a three-metre high mound of soil with a 10-degree incline. His truck could manage 14 degrees.
Although he had been wearing a high-vis jacket and hard hat, a colleague paired with Mr Green said the under-chin strap was “optional” and had to be bought separately.
Self-employed Martin McCarthy, who had been working on Rose Builders’ Summer Park housing development for 14 months, also said it was common for employees to not wear seatbelts in vehicles, including himself. He claimed supervisors did not actively check on-site.
However, ground worker Daniel Bycraft, 32, who pulled Mr Green from under the smoking truck and called 999, maintained he always wore one.
Mr Green’s seatbelt was found wedged behind his seat, suggesting it had not been locked in place.
David Rudland, on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, claimed there was “high probability” the fatality could have been avoided if he had.
He said: “No matter how hard you hold on to the truck, he wouldn’t have been strong enough to withstand the contact.”
Mr Rudland also described the position of the front tipper bucket, suggesting Mr Green was just beginning to offload soil from the top of the mound, which was flat, when it overturned.
Several witnesses were asked how in this instance a vehicle operator would know where the edge is, to which they replied it is down to training and experience.
Chris Gillespie, representing Rose Builders, said the company puts safety “at the heart of its business”.
He said: “The company is working to change the culture of workers not wearing seatbelts.
“Industry-wide there’s a move to perhaps have an alarm system to show when seats aren’t actively locked.”
Tragic - Lawford Summers Park where David Green was working
THE family of David Green, whose death may have been avoided with more rigorous safety checks, want more to be done by way of prevention.
Sister Vicky Green was shocked at the lack of health and safety checks.
Evidence given at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court also alluded to a culture of not wearing seatbelts when driving, but also a lack of enforcement, which she said is “absolutely terrible”.
David Rudland, of the Health and Safety Executive, said this was sadly not a unique accident.
Rose Builders’ new recruits are told during their induction they must wear a seatbelt when driving. Workers can be suspended or sacked for breaching health and safety rules three times or more.
Steven Rose, of Rose Builders, said: “David was a respected and valued member of our site team. His tragic and unexpected death has had a profound effect on everyone at Rose Builders. The company’s thoughts have been, and remain with, his wife, family and friends.”
Martin Maginn, representing the Green family, said: “The family are deeply devastated about the incident and appreciate the coroner’s verdict in respect of the circumstances leading to the loss of David’s life on-site.”