An Angus firm has been fined £200,000 following the death of a pensioner who accidentally reversed a dumper truck over the edge of a quarry.
D Geddes (Contractors) Ltd employee Joseph Troup’s 35-tonne truck over-ran an inadequate stop block while he was working at Hatton Mill Quarry, Kinnell, Friockheim.
Mr Troup, 76, of St Ninian’s Road, Padanaram, had worked for the company for 18 years.
He was not wearing a seatbelt and was killed instantly when the massive machine plunged down the slope on July 26 2012.
Investigations revealed the pensioner may have made a frantic attempt to engage a forward gear to stop the accident happening.
The company which previously had an unblemished safety record last night spoke of its grief over the death of a man described not only as an employee but also a close friend.
A spokesman said: “The company wish to make clear from the outset their deep and sincere regret that this accident took place.
“Joe Troup was not only an employee of the company but a close friend of both Frank and Neil Geddes.
“He will be sorely missed by all.”
At Forfar Sheriff Court, D Geddes (Contractors) Ltd pleaded guilty to an indictment alleging a contravention of the 1999 Quarries Regulations section of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The company admitted it failed to construct and maintain an adequate stop block above the input hopper of the processing plant at the quarry to stop a fully-loaded, heavy vehicle from over- running the edge, causing the fatal accident.
Sheriff Gregor Murray said there had been a number of failures and the company had fallen short of its obligations.
“The fine must reflect public disquiet over the loss of a life,” he said.
The court heard it appeared Mr Troup had “inadvertently” put the vehicle into reverse. The reverse lever was side by side with the tipping lever and the dumper truck fell backwards onto the quarry floor below.
The stop block at the edge of the quarry was too small in height and there was also a build-up of tipped material in front of that.
That was said to have created a ramp rather than a barrier.
Mr Troup wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from his seat, coming to rest behind the driver’s seat and suffering significant injuries to the back of his head.
Mr Troup was removed from the vehicle by firefighters but his death was said to have been “instantaneous”.
Solicitor Ann Bonomy said there had been a combination of factors including Mr Troup putting the dumper truck in reverse and failing to wear a seatbelt.
However, she said the company accepted that an adequate stop block may have prevented the vehicle from ever tipping into the quarry.
Mr Troup’s widow and family were in court but declined to comment following the verdict.
Sheriff Murray gave the firm 24 months to pay the fine.