Man died under half-a-ton of steel that fell off lorry

A haulage driver died after heavy steel gates toppled onto his head as he was unstrapping a load on a flatbed lorry. Andrew Bayley-Machin was knocked to the ground after they struck him. Despite efforts to save him, the 41-year-old, from Park Drive, Cheadle, died from multiple injuries.

On the opening day of a five-day inquest, a jury heard the 10 gates, which had been banded together and loaded vertically, weighed half a ton. More Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire headlines They had been restrained on the vehicle using just two straps.

Mr Bayley-Machin was working for Cheddleton-based LM Bateman at the time of the tragic incident on June 20, 2018. The company manufactures items for the agricultural industry, which are then sent to another firm to be galvanised. On the day in question, the driver picked up the load from galvanisers Joseph Ash and was returning to Batemans.

He called ahead to let staff know he was arriving and then pulled into the yard at around 3.30pm. Yard supervisor Simon Harvey looked towards the lorry, but was assisting a forklift truck driver so his attention was diverted. He recalled seeing Mr Bayley-Machin get out and walk to the side of the vehicle.

“I heard the first strap going,” said Mr Harvey. “The second strap was a bang. As soon as I heard the bang, I rushed round to the side and found the gates on top of him.” When questioned at the inquest yesterday, he maintained it was a driver’s responsibility to check the load was safe before releasing the straps.

“If it was unsafe, the driver would ask for help,” he added. The items were due to be unloaded by a forklift truck driver once Mr Bayley-Machin unstrapped them and got back into his cab. But he never made it back inside the lorry.

HR manager Ian Jones, who also oversees health and safety at Batemans, received a phone call alerting him to the accident. He went straight to the scene. “The first aider was cradling Andy, who was lying on the floor.

Then the ambulance crew turned up and the police turned up,” he said. Mr Bayley-Machin – described by colleagues as ‘hardworking, polite and professional’ – was a keen horseman in his spare time, where he would also judge and commentate on events. His death stunned the North Staffordshire equestrian community.

At the inquest, several Bateman employees were quizzed about the company’s policy on checking goods were stable before a driver undid the straps. Martin Littler, representing Mr Bayley-Machin’s family, said: “There’s nothing in writing that says the driver is fully responsible for checking the load.”

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The gates that fell had been laid on top of the load, which also included cattle hurdles and troughs. Although a stillage – a frame used for carrying goods – had secured some items, it was not supporting the gates.

Craig Morris, representing the Health and Safety Executive, said: “The most obvious risk when you’re transporting goods is that goods can move. If things are banded together, they come loose in transit.” Colin Lineton, from Joseph Ash, had loaded the vehicle that day.

He said several items were added that had been missed off, but Mr Bayley-Machin had been ‘happy with it’. Asked if the gates were loaded safely, Mr Lineton added: “They were secure. They couldn’t have just fallen over.”

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