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Dock company fined after worker suffers serious injuries

A dock company has found itself in court after an employee sustained severe leg injuries when an operation to unload a cargo container went wrong.

What happened?

Agency dock worker, Andrew Gotts, suffered extensive damage to his lower right leg when he found himself trapped as a jammed container suddenly freed itself.

A court heard that Mr Gotts, who had been helping to unload containers from a ship, was standing on an access platform on the deck while his colleagues tried to free a jammed container.

Without warning, the container moved towards him, trapping him against the handrail of the platform and crushing his leg.

The 26 year old employee needed extensive reconstruction surgery and is yet to find out when or if he will be fit to work again.

What was the outcome?

A court found that, not only did the Essex-based company not have a satisfactory procedure in place for freeing jammed containers; its workers were also regularly at risk during the off-loading operations where they would walk across the top of containers to attach chains, with nothing to prevent falls.

Harwich Dock Company Ltd was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £14,761 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Toni Drury, and HSE inspector, said:

“This incident was entirely preventable. Mr Gotts was injured by a
jammed container when it suddenly freed and he sustained
horrific and life-changing injuries.

“The risk of containers jamming is well-known in the port industry.
There should have been a clear procedure known to the workers,
including keeping people clear of the jammed container and
having one individual designated to manage operations.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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