Aberdeenshire road worker’s death ‘could have been avoided’

Aberdeenshire road worker's death 'could have been avoided'

The death of a road worker who was killed by a colleague’s reversing lorry in Aberdeenshire in 2016 could have been avoided, a fatal accident inquiry has found.

Turriff man William Black was working as a foreman for Aberdeenshire Council’s roads department at the time of the accident on 26 January 2016 at the B9005 Fyvie to Methlick road.

He had instructed the lorry to reverse up the road to allow road surfacing work to continue, but then, “without any explanation or warning”, walked behind the vehicle and was knocked down and crushed.

Sheriff Robert Frazer said the death “could have realistically been avoided if a banksman had been in place at the start of and during the reversing manoeuvre by the lorry”.

“As a trained banksman himself, Mr Black was clearly aware of the risks involved in such a driving manoeuvre being undertaken without the necessary procedure in place,” he added.

“This was clearly contrary to the council’s policy with which Mr Black, as an experienced foreman and banksman, was very familiar.”

The sheriff said he was satisfied that Aberdeenshire Council had taken proactive steps to improve its health and safety procedures since the accident, including “the distribution of the necessary documentary policies and information to all members of staff and external contractors, more training and improved electronic risk assessment record keeping, including audits”.

He concluded: “Unfortunately, no rational explanation can be given for [Mr Black’s] actions which appear to have been out of character for someone who [was] well liked, hardworking, reliable and trustworthy.

“I will therefore simply finish by joining with all parties in my expressing my sincere condolences to Mr Black’s friends, colleagues and family for his very sad loss in these most tragic of circumstances.”

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