Legal action considered after port death

ACTION may be taken against a Suffolk port in the wake of an inquest into the death of a grandfather who was crushed by an articulated trailer.

ACTION may be taken against a Suffolk port in the wake of an inquest into the death of a grandfather who was crushed by an articulated trailer.

A jury ruled yesterday that Brian Vince's accidental death came about as a result of “vulnerable working conditions” at Ipswich Port.

But the port's bosses last night said they had overhauled their procedures at the terminal as a result of the incident.

Cargo handler Mr Vince, 60, of Lanercost Way, Ipswich died on March 30 last year at the West Bank Terminal in Wherstead Road after suffering fatal injuries to his chest and pelvis after being hit by a vehicle, the inquest heard. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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He had been helping to load and unload a ferry which had arrived from Ostend, Belgium when the accident happened at 7.45pm.

Speaking immediately after the inquest, held at Ipswich Crown Court, Annette Hall, a spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive, said criminal proceedings against Associated British Ports, who operate the Ipswich port, were being considered.

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“A thorough investigation has now been carried out into the circumstances of Mr Vince's death.

“Following the inquest we need to review the investigation and see whether criminal proceedings are appropriate in these circumstances.”

She added: “The family are now waiting for our decision.”

The inquest heard how Mr Vince was wearing a hi-visibility jacket that did not meet required standards and hearing protection that would have still left it difficult for him to hear oncoming vehicles.

It was also revealed that vehicles with large blind spots would have to move on and off a platform without the consent of a ramp man - the position Mr Vince held. The drivers were expected to look out for the workers moving about.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Peter Dean explained to the jury how the port's investigation had turned the system from a reactive to a proactive one following the accident.

An Associated British Port (ABP) spokesman told the EADT how they had learnt lessons from the accident.

“The health and safety of its workforce remains ABP's number one priority. Following this tragic accident, ABP reviewed all of its procedures at the Ipswich terminal and continues to aspire to having the best safety record in the industry.

“ABP will continue to assist the HSE with its investigations and would like once again to express its great sadness and deepest sympathy to the family of Brian Vince at the loss of a loyal and much valued member of the ABP team.”

A popular member of the East Anglian Caravanning Association and a local football referee, Mr Vince had worked at the port almost all his life and had been looking forward to going to New York to celebrate his 60th birthday with his family.

Last night the family declined to comment, but at the time of the accident his daughter Ronni-Louise Vince, said: “He was at the heart of our family. We can't believe he has gone.

“He loved his job, he loved being outside. It is unbelievable this has happened.”

She added the family also extended their sympathy to the vehicle's driver which struck Mr Vince.

Port staff also told jurors how the accident unfolded, before the verdict of accidental death carrying out work duties in a vulnerable environment was accepted by Mr Dean.

He told the court: “The verdict describes the situation, in a sense, almost as a slight narrative.

“Our thoughts are very much with the family at this time.”

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