Family Says MoD Must Learn Lessons From Training Incidents Like Salisbury Plain

Coroner Waiting For MoD Response After Report Outlines Safety Recommendations

03.07.2015

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

The family of an Army Sergeant who died in a military training accident says the troop carrier crash on Salisbury Plain last month which injured at least 11 soldiers highlights the urgent need for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to do more to keep their employees safe.

An inquest in May this year into the death of Sergeant Mark Foley found he died aged 31 in June 2014 after the inexperienced driver of an RWMIK lost control on a range road. The Inquest also heard that there was a failure to enforce the wearing of safety harnesses whilst on the training exercise.

Philip Sharp, Assistant Coroner for Cumbria, has since prepared a Regulation 28 ‘Report to Prevent Future Deaths’ which has been sent to the Ministry for Defence and The Army. In it he outlines his concerns that more deaths will occur unless action is taken to remedy these two issues.

Specialist military injuries lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are representing Sgt Foley’s family in their battle for justice and answers over how his death occurred. The firm is urging the MoD to do more to learn from training accidents after statistics revealed that the vast majority of serious injuries suffered by armed forces personnel are caused in training.

Geraldine McCool, head of the military injuries team at law firm Irwin Mitchell representing Sgt Foley’s family said:

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“The latest accident on the Salisbury Plain appears to have several parallels to many others we have seen including that of Sgt Foley. This was a training exercise with troops being moved from one place to another, and although we don’t know what safety harnesses or seatbelts were available in the Salisbury crash, experience of the vehicle type and the injuries suffered would suggest that harnesses were either not being used or were not available.

“The coroner who heard the Inquest into the death of Sgt Foley decided that is was his statutory duty to report the circumstances of his death to try to prevent future deaths, and although no one died in the Salisbury Plain crash it highlights once again the dangers our troops are currently facing just in training exercises here in the UK.

“Many training accidents could easily be prevented with better risk assessments and more appropriate precautions. The driver who overturned the vehicle Sgt Foley was travelling in was qualified but the coroner believed he had insufficient experience in encountering difficulties in controlling the vehicle.

“The inquest also highlighted that although there were standing orders in place regarding the wearing of safety harnesses – it was commonplace among commanders of vehicles not to wear them, something which was not enforced by senior officers.”
Geraldine McCool, Partner

The coroner recommended extra training for inexperienced drivers in his report in his Regulation 28 report in what to do if they lose control of a vehicle and to devise a system which enforces the wearing of safety harnesses.

The MoD has a duty to respond by 27 July this year when the Coroner will wish to see a plan of action in how these areas will be addressed.

Sgt Foley’s widow Kelly, who lives in Hull said: “I cannot believe that another serious crash between army vehicles has happened in a training exercise. You accept that people in the armed forces are going to be involved in dangerous situations when they are on duty in warzones, but when they are training here at home in the UK you expect them to be kept safe.

“Lessons have to be learned from the Coroner’s investigation to prevent any future similar heartache for other families.”

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