Tragic bus driver had no door-jam training

Picture shows the Stagecoach bus depot on Lockett Road, Bryn
Picture shows the Stagecoach bus depot on Lockett Road, Bryn

A WIGAN bus driver who died while trying to fix his vehicle’s folding doors had not been trained about how to deal with a door jam, an inquest heard.

Darren Morley, 50, who was the only person on the bus, tried to mend the door when the mechanism became stuck.

The inquest heard that the most likely cause was a screw that was caught in the gap under the right panel of the door.

The doors on the Stagecoach single-decker were not touch sensitive and Mr Morley tragically died after the folding doors closed on his neck when he unblocked the mechanism.

Rob Marr, a specialist inspector for the Health and Safety Executive, told the hearing: “We tested the doors and they appeared to work fine.

“Until we saw the CCTV footage we were unsure what had occurred.

“When we reviewed the footage we realised that when the last passenger gets off the bus, the door jammed when Mr Morley tried to close the doors.

“Mr Morley stops the bus and tries to close the doors again from his seat but the right door remains partially open.

“It appeared that the mechanism was working but something was jamming the door.

“Mr Morley then leaves his seat and goes over to the door but the last button he pressed is to close it.

“It means the right hand door is still attempting to close so when he pushed against it with his shoulder it closed quickly and trapped him.”

Bolton Coroner’s Court heard that the doors, which were last checked in 2011, had dropped within two weeks of their inspection because the bolt holding them up was not tight enough.

This had then caught the “foreign object”, believed to be a screw, and caused the jam. Tragedy struck on October 9 last year after Mr Morley parked up his vehicle on Lockett Road, Bryn.

Mr Marr added: “If the door had been at the recommended level from the ground it wouldn’t have jammed the screw.”

The recommended level was printed in the manual provided by the manufacturer but this was not checked when the bus was inspected because there was not a problem with the doors at the time.

Graham Whitelock, director of health and safety for Stagecoach, said steps have now been taken to prevent an incident like this happening again.

He said: “When Mr Morley became trapped, he was on his own and couldn’t reach the button to release the doors.

“We now provide training to drivers to make sure that, should a jam occur, the last button they press is to open the doors, so they won’t close on them.

“This fatal injury would not have occurred if the doors were touch sensitive.

“Since 1 May, all our new buses are fitted with touch sensitive doors.

“Our engineers are now also trained to check there is a 9mm gap underneath the doors of the bus.

“I’d like to add that Mr Morley was just half a mile from the depot.

“A lesser driver would have used that as a reason to finish his shift and turn the bus around to take it to the depot.

“But Mr Morley did exactly as he should have done: he stopped the bus and looked for the problem.

“I can’t fault him.”

Coroner Jennifer Leeming said: “I’m not suggesting that Mr Morley did anything at all wrong.

“He was a grade A driver but his training didn’t include what to do if you were on your own and the door jammed because the risk perceived was to passengers.

“It’s important to prevent a tragedy such as this from happening again.

“There is an issue beyond what happened to Mr Morley and that is the risk to the public themselves.

“Steps in the right direction have been made to minimise the risk.”