Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Anger over bakery death findings

Graham Meldrum
Mr Meldrum was crushed to death at the plant in Balmore Industrial estate

The family of a lorry driver crushed to death in Glasgow has said a fatal accident inquiry into his death has failed to identify who was to blame.

Graham Meldrum, 40, died after being struck by a faulty tail lift on his truck while unloading at an Allied Bakery plant in the city in July 2005.

Sheriff Sean Murphy QC said better training and vehicle maintenance could have prevented his death.

But Mr Meldrum's family has demanded company directors be held responsible.

The fatal accident inquiry at Glasgow Sheriff Court heard Mr Meldrum, who was an agency driver for TNT, had only received about two hours training.

It was also told that the tail lift mechanism of his lorry was defective.

Defects in the maintenance system operated by Allied Bakeries contributed to the cause of the accident
Sheriff Sean Murphy QC

In a written judgement, Sheriff Murphy said: "Defects in the maintenance system operated by Allied Bakeries contributed to the cause of the accident.

"I am satisfied that in each case the defect had existed for some time prior to the date of the accident.

"The tail lift was in poor condition with a number of broken, defective or missing parts.

"The body of evidence indicates that Mr Meldrum had not been properly trained to use the type of lift he was expected to use.

"He was not trained in what to do if it failed in some way to operate correctly."

Sheriff Murphy said that proper maintenance of the tail lift by Allied Bakeries and adequate driver training by TNT were "reasonable precautions whereby the accident which resulted in the death might have been avoided".

He ruled that Mr Meldrum died from depressed skull fractures with associated brain damage.

But Mr Meldrum's widowed partner, Karen Thomson, said the sheriff's findings did not go far enough.

'Criminal negligence'

She said: "The sheriff highlights some of the critical failures of these companies and makes clear that they were responsible for Graham's death.

"However he failed to highlight sufficiently the apparently deliberate decision by Allied Bakeries not to repair crucial safety features on the tailgate over a period of many years.

"He failed to acknowledge that cost cutting on these essential safety critical repairs lies at the heart of the matter and he almost completely ignored the responsibility of ABF/Allied Bakeries senior management to ensure proper health and safety standards were in place."

In a statement, Mr Meldrum's family claimed Allied Bakeries were "guilty of criminal negligence, or worse of deliberately and criminally downgrading the safety critical work in order to maximise profits".

The statement also alleged a similar level of negligence at two inspectors employed to check the tail lifts.

Following Mr Meldrum's death ABF Grain Products Ltd, formerly Allied Bakeries, admitted three health and safety breaches. TNT Logistics admitted a single breach.

ABF Grain Products Ltd was fined 19,500 and TNT Logistics fined 14,000.

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