'Intrinsically unstable' stacking of trailer load of wood panels at Norbord's Cowie, Scotland factory led to fatal crushing of driver employed by Harpers Transport, sheriff tells inquiry

LOS ANGELES , December 27, 2012 () – Poor stacking of a trailer load of wood panels at Norbord's Cowie, U.K. factory led to the death of a lorry driver from Huntly in Aberdeenshire, a fatal accident inquiry has been told.

According to a written determination by Sheriff Fiona Tait, Russell Wilson, 24,  was crushed to death at the Norbord factory in 2008 because the boards had been placed in a way that was  "intrinsically unstable," BBC News reported on Dec. 21.

Wilson was an employee of Harpers Transport, which has a base at the Norbord factory, and had been due to sleep in his cab overnight at Norbord, the BBC reported. He was found dead by colleagues beneath the fallen stack on April 23, 2008 after suffering fatal head, neck and chest injuries.

Tait said Wilson had been fatally injured when struck by a toppling load of chipboard as he removed a lashing strap. She said she accepted that Wilson had no authorized purpose in attending at the trailer, and every indication was that Wilson was attempting to remove the lashing strap for his own use. But she said it should have been possible to remove the strap without the stack collapsing.

Tait said Wilson's death would have been prevented if the panels had been properly stacked, and suggested that the boards could have "sprung" as tension was released on the strap securing the load. She also said a number of defects in the system of working at the plant had contributed to the accident, the BBC reported.

Harpers Transport was fined £8,000 last March at Stirling Sheriff Court for failing to ensure its workers were not exposed to the risk of injury or death.

The primary source of this article is BBC News, Cowie, U.K., on Dec. 21, 2012.

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