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Report finds death could have been avoided

30th January 2014
Page 18
Page 18, 30th January 2014 — Report finds death could have been avoided
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Operator: Skye Transport Crossal Matter: Health and safety Fatal accident inquiry: Inverness Sheriff Court

A SHERIFF'S REPORT following the fatal accident inquiry into the death of Isle of Skye haulier John Campbell MacKinnon, who was electrocuted after trying to escape his burning truck, has listed the "reasonable precautions" that might have prevented the incident.

The 65-year-old director at Skye Transport Crossal, who had worked in the business for more than 25 years, was highly regarded and safety conscious, according to the original inquest into his death.

On 22 December 2011, MacKinnon was carrying out a job on behalf of Munro Harvesting to remove timber from Forestry Commission Scotland's Kyle Farm site. He was driving an independent loader that had been purchased two months previously, and for which he had attended a safety

course on how to operate the lorry-mounted crane.

The inquiry found that MacKinnon had moved his vehicle a short distance along a forest track with the jib of the crane extended.

The jib struck high voltage overhead cables causing the vehicle to ignite and the ground to become electrified, which resulted in the haulier's death as he exited the burning truck. Sheriff Margaret Neilson said there were three reasonable precautions that could have been taken, which might have prevented the fatality: • the victim not driving with an extended jib near overhead cables; • the existence of suitable `goalposts' with rigid crossbars and clear markings (there were wooden warning posts on site, but these were not up to current regulations);

• Skye Transport being provided with information regarding the work site prior to carrying out the job, such as a site map showing locations of power lines.

The Sheriff's report stated: "The safest course of action for a driver or other occupant is to remain within the vehicle – unless it ignites, in which case he should jump out of it without touching the exterior of the vehicle and 'bunny hop' away from it keeping both feet as close together as possible to minimise risk of electrocution.

"In addition, in these circumstances, no one should ever return to the vehicle."

Summing up

The report has provided expert safety advice for hauliers working around high voltage overhead cables. The hope is that tragic incidents like this will not happen again in future.

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