PD Ports denies safety breach after death of dock worker in Hartlepool

The Bright Ocean in Hartlepool.
The Bright Ocean in Hartlepool.

A port operator has denied failing to ensure the safety of a dock worker who tragically died after a 30ft plunge on a ship.

PD Ports is being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive in connection with the death of 59-year-old Bob Harrison.

Mr Harrison died on the Bright Ocean ship, while it was docked in Irvine’s Quay, in Ferry Road, Hartlepool, on September 9, 2012.

Mr Harrison, from Acklam, Middlesbrough, was supervising the loading of large steel pipes into a hold on the vessel when he fell down a hatch, hitting the steel floor of the ship’s hold.

He suffered head, spine and back injuries in the fall and was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

Representatives from the company appeared at Teeside Crown Court yesterday to answer a charge of failing to discharge a duty, contrary to the Health and Safety Act.

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

James Age Ross QC, defending, told the hearing: “I am authorised to enter a not guilty plea on the company’s behalf.”

Stephen Uttley, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said he expected a trial to last up to a week.

Mr Uttley said: “It is a case that is to go to trial.

“I envisage it will last five to seven days.

“There will be complex matters, including evidence about the ship and soft landing systems.

“The only additional evidence that we will provide will be obtained from manufacturers of soft landing systems.”

Judge Peter Armstrong yesterday set a date for a trial by jury at the crown court, on November 12, for a hearing to last between five and seven days.