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    FATALITY AFTER WOOD STACKING GUIDANCE NOT FOLLOWED

    Window and door manufacturer prosecuted after workman crushed by panels

    M M Contracting Ltd, a manufacturer of wooden doors and windows, has been fined after a worker died when wooden panels toppled crushing him and causing fatal head injuries.

    Andrzej Rokita, a 55-year-old Polish national, had been with M M Contracting Ltd for only 10 days when he was removing a large board from the middle of a pile stacked upright against a wall in the London workshop.

    No excuse for not storing wood safely

    M M Contracting Ltd, of Bedford Road, London E17 4PX, had pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at an earlier hearing. The company was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.

    The company system involved one person standing in front of the stack taking the weight of the unwanted boards as a fellow worker pulled out the chosen one from the side. 

    HSE investigators concluded that the company did not have a safe system of work for the storage or retrieval of boards. Storing the boards flat on the floor or using a simple purpose-built racking system would have greatly reduced the risk of injury.

    After sentencing at Southwark Crown Court, HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

    “This was a death waiting to happen. Incidents such as this are still a common occurrence in the industry despite the existence of guidance from the HSE offering simple, inexpensive solutions for stacking wood safely.

    As a direct result of the company’s failure to provide safe storage for their everyday materials, a father and husband has lost his life. There is no excuse for employers not ensuring that wood on their premises is properly stored, posing the most minimal risk to their staff.”

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