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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Cumbrian widow's 'significant' payout after husband's fall at work

The widow of a Cumbrian truck driver who died after an accident at work has been given a ‘significant’ compensation pay-out from his employers.

Mansel Bell, of Nenthead, near Alston, suffered severe brain damage when he fell from the top of a tanker lorry he had been cleaning.

He died in hospital two months later.

Mr Bell was 64 and working for Turners (Soham) Ltd at the firm’s Fosterley Garage in Weardale when he fell in April 2007.

Yesterday Thompsons Solicitors announced that his family had been paid a significant but undisclosed sum of money.

The amount of damages was settled out of court after Thompsons secured a judgement that Turners was liable for Mr Bell’s death.

Although it was normal practice for Turners drivers to climb on top of their vehicles to clean them, gantries were not provided.

Mr Bell and his wife Maureen were the main carers for their grandson.

Mr Bell had hoped to carry on working until he was 70, just a few weeks before the accident he passed a medical and was given a clean bill of health.

After his death Mrs Bell contacted the GMB union, which instructed Thompsons to pursue a claim.

Mrs Bell, 66, said: “Mansel loved his work and had washed down his tanker a thousand times before. It was essential to wash off the cement otherwise it would damage the tanker.

“I don’t understand why Turners did not put in a gantry to make it easier for drivers to clean their vehicles.

“I understand Turners have now installed the equipment but it is far too late for Mansel. Had he been alive today he would continue to work and we’d be making plans for our retirement together.

“We have been through hell during the last 12 months and I would never want another family to endure what we have.”

The GMB has called for safer working conditions in all depots.

Spokesman Ged Caig said: “Our condolences go to Mrs Bell and her family for this terrible accident. We now call for all HGV depots to install gantries so workers are not forced into the same dangerous situation as Mr Bell.

“His death was needless and highlights the need for employers to take all necessary steps possible to safeguard their workers.”

Mr Bell had worked as a HGV driver for more than 40 years, transporting cement and liquids from Scotland to London.

Mrs Bell says her husband was passionate about his job and extremely safety conscious.

Andrew McDonald, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “This is a tragic case where the simple investment by Mr Bell’s employers in a gantry would have avoided his death.

“He has left behind a loving wife and grandson who must now come to terms with his loss.”

A spokesman for Turners declined to comment.

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