Inquest finds Watton grandfather killed by falling lorry part died of misadventure

PUBLISHED: 13:10 29 October 2015 | UPDATED: 18:35 29 October 2015

Chris Towndrow reads a tribute to his father-in-law Peter Buckle following an inquest into his death

Chris Towndrow reads a tribute to his father-in-law Peter Buckle following an inquest into his death


A farming company’s health and safety system “fell apart” in the lead up to an accident that killed a grandfather who had worked for it since the age of 21, a coroner has said.

Family hopes lessons have been learned

After the inquest, Mr Buckle’s son-in-law, Chris Towndrow, paid tribute on behalf of his family.

He said: “Peter was a very much loved husband, father and grandfather, who was killed doing a job he loved. We have been left devastated by his loss.

“We are pleased that we can now understand how the accident happened.

“We only hope lessons have been learned which will prevent other families going through this heartache in the future.”

Peter Buckle, 67, an HGV driver employed by Wayland Farms Ltd, died after suffering a fractured skull when part of a lorry he was loading with rubbish fell on him at a site in Gayton Thorpe, near King’s Lynn, on March 24.

Fellow HGV driver Jack Tyas, who gave evidence at Norfolk Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, had said the equipment to lift rubbish into the lorry was faulty, so they instead propped open the tailgate – a heavy metal flap hinged at the top – so they could load it from the bottom, by hand.

However, Health and Safety Executive inspector Paul Unwin yesterday described the plan as “ill conceived”, and said the prop was inappropriate, of poor quality, and had probably slipped on the smooth inner surface of the trailer, causing the tailgate to fall on Mr Buckle.

He said the vehicle should only have been loaded from above, not below, and added: “The system of work being employed was not safe and the risk of the makeshift prop slipping, allowing the tailgate to fall, should have been foreseen.”

Peter Buckle inquest. Health and Safety Executive inspector Paul Unwin. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPeter Buckle inquest. Health and Safety Executive inspector Paul Unwin. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

After the accident, the inspector interviewed Robin Simon, who looks after health and safety for company, and said: “Overall there was nothing that jumped out at us that was untoward.

“The company seems to have a reasonable attitude to the management of health and safety and seems to have the resources in place to manage health and safety in the company.”

The jury unanimously concluded Mr Buckle died of misadventure.

Coroner Jacqueline Lake said she had a duty to send a report about the accident to Wayland Farms and the Health and Safety Executive, to help prevent future deaths.

She said: “I am of the view that problems started when the telehandler and the grab failed to work. There was no contingency plan in place and that is where the health and safety system fell apart.”

She said the men took steps to throw rubbish onto the truck, and added: “I’m of the view that that is the point where the risk assessment should have been taken. I’m not convinced that anything would necessarily be different if this occurred today.”

Ms Lake said the men then decided on the more dangerous method of propping the tailgate open, and were focussed on carrying out their task out of loyalty to the company, and “in that respect they had no thought for their own safety”.

The coroner said the company’s Stop and Think safety campaign, which it accelerated following Mr Buckle’s death, would go some way to avoiding accidents in the future, but she was not satisfied it has permeated to all employees. She added: “More needs to be done to change the culture of the work place.”

Wayland Farms declined to comment.

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