Firm in court over Hartlepool dock worker’s death fall

PROSECUTION ... Dock worker Robert Harrison died after falling 30ft on The Bright Ocean, docked at Irvine's Quay in Hartlepool.
PROSECUTION ... Dock worker Robert Harrison died after falling 30ft on The Bright Ocean, docked at Irvine's Quay in Hartlepool.
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A PORT company is being prosecuted over the tragic death of a worker.

PD Ports is being taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after dock worker 59-year-old Robert Harrison - who was employed by an agency - was killed in a 30ft fall on a ship at Hartlepool, in September 2012.

PD Ports is being prosecuted for an alleged breach under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Representatives for the company appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday.

They were not made to sit in the dock but in the court behind the company’s barrister.

Mr Harrison is understood to have been supervising the loading of large steel pipes into the hold of a vessel at Irvine’s Quay when he fell from a platform.

He fell around 30ft, approximately eight metres, down a hatch on to the steel floor of the hold of the ship, the Bright Ocean.

Lawyers for PD Ports asked for more time to consider a HSE report of the incident and to consult their own expert before deciding whether to plead guilty or not guilty to the offence.

Barrister John Williams, for the company, said: “My application to adjourn is to allow the defendant more time to finalise our expert evidence and advise my client appropriately on plea.”

Mr Williams said any dispute in the case would focus on potential measures the HSE say could have been in place to protect Mr Harrison or other workers in the event of a fall.

The HSE launched an investigation following the tragic accident which happened at the dock on Ferry Road at around 7.30pm on Sunday, September 9, 2012.

A dock crane was used to winch Mr Harrison to the shore, from where he was flown to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough by air ambulance.

Their efforts were in vain and he died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Recorder Martin Bethel QC adjourned the case until Friday, June 12, when please on behalf of PD Ports, of Queen’s Square, Middlesbrough, are due to be taken by the company.