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Depot Manager killed by reversing truck – haulage company fined £2.2 million

man in hi viz clothing giving directions to reversing vehicle

Turners (Soham) and The Haulage Group have been  fined £2.2m  after depot manager was killed by a  reversing truck.

Neil Roberts, 60, worked for Turners (Soham) when he was hit by the truck on 30 August 2019.

The incident occurred at the premises of The Haulage Group, previously known as Howell Group, in Birmingham when the vehicle reversed out of a parking space in the transport yard.

A subsequent investigation by the HSE found that both companies failed to manage the risks associated with workplace transport.

Turners (Soham) pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £1.9m and ordered to pay costs of £7,300.

The Haulage Group also pleaded guilty to breaching the same Act and was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,300.

HSE Principal Inspector Amy Kalay said: “This tragic incident was completely preventable.

“Both companies failed to recognise and control the risks associated with workplace transport, and in particular the dangers of reversing vehicles and poor visibility.

“The principle of ensuring pedestrians and vehicles are kept apart is well known and the measures needed to ensure separation and control the risk need not be complicated.

“If the companies had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place, this incident would not have happened.”

Motor Transport report  


HSE Guidance is that companies should aim to remove the need to reverse altogether.  This can be done by setting up one-way systems, for example drive-through loading and unloading positions. Where reversing is unavoidable, routes should be organised to minimise the need for reversing.

Ensure visiting drivers are familiar with the layout of the workplace, and with any site rules. Do drivers have to report to reception on arrival?

In locations where reversing cannot be avoided:

  • ‘Reversing areas’ should be planned out and clearly marked.
  • People who do not need to be in reversing areas should be kept well clear.
  • Consider employing a trained signaller (a banksman), both to keep the reversing area free of pedestrians and to guide drivers. Be aware: The use of signallers is not allowed in some industries due to the size of vehicles involved, and the difficulty that drivers have in seeing them.
  • A signaller:
    • Will need to use a clear, agreed system of signalling.
    • Will need to be visible to drivers at all times.
    • Will need to stand in a safe position, from which to guide the reversing vehicle without being in its way.
    • Should wear very visible clothing, such as reflective vests, and ensure that any signals are clearly seen.
  • If drivers lose sight of the signallers they should know to stop immediately.
  • Consider whether portable radios or similar communication systems would be helpful.

The following steps might help to reduce the risk of reversing accidents. The following are examples, but it is unlikely that any single measure will be enough to ensure safety:

  • Site layouts can be designed (or modified) to increase visibility for drivers and pedestrians, for example:
    • By increasing the area allowed for reversing.
    • By installing fixed mirrors in smaller areas.
  • Reducing the dangers caused by ‘blind-spots’:
    • Most vehicles already have external side-mounted and rear-view mirrors fitted. These need to be kept clean and in good repair.
    • Refractive lenses fitted to rear windows or closed-circuit television systems can be used to help drivers to see behind the vehicle.
    • If drivers cannot see behind the vehicle, they should leave their cab and check behind the vehicle before reversing.
  • Reversing alarms can be fitted:
    • These should be kept in working order.
    • Audible alarms should be loud and distinct enough that they do not become part of the background noise.
    • where an audible alarm might not stand out from the background noise, flashing warning lights can be used.
  • Other safety devices can be fitted to vehicles:
    • For example, a number of ‘sensing’ and ‘trip’ systems are available, which either warn the driver or stop the vehicle when an obstruction is detected close to, or comes in contact with, the reversing vehicle.
  • Stops such as barriers, or buffers at loading bays can be used. They should be highly visible, and sensibly positioned.
  • Where vehicles reverse up to structures or edges, barriers or wheel stops can be used to warn drivers that they need to stop.
  • White lines on the floor can help the driver position the vehicle accurately.

Reversing – Workplace transport (


Our half day Banksman Course  gives  staff the necessary skills to be able to conduct safe reversing procedures. We have trained thousands of Banksmen for haulage companies, local authorities, NHS sites and warehousing operations across the UK.

In one day we can train up to eight people, four in the morning and four in the afternoon for just £400 plus VAT.

A theory session of around 45 minutes is followed by  around two and half hours of practical training in live situations on your premises.   Each delegate receives a Certificate of Attendance and a aide memoire card reminding them of the agreed HSE signals that pass between the banksman and the driver.  Our trainer will also give you feedback on yard layout, traffic systems, separation of pedestrians and traffic and highlight any improvements that can be made to improve safety.

Call us now on 01384 442233 for further details.