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    Falling Tri-mast sections crush engineer during assembly in plant yard

    Universal Builders Supply Ltd has been found guilty after a trial concerning safety failings that led to the death of an engineer crushed by a falling metal mast at the company premises in Cambridgeshire. Construction engineer Nigel Sewell, aged 57, died as a result of his crush injuries following the incident on 19 September 2011.

    During a 7 day trial at Peterborough Crown Court the jury was told Mr Sewell was part of a four man team assembling a Tri-mast in the rear yard of the premises. A Tri-mast is a purpose built self-standing tower configured in a triangular formation to allow a lift car to run up and down one of the three masts sections.

    The sections were being lifted and then lowered vertically into a purpose-built jig using a telehandler and a four-leg chain sling. Two sections had been lowered into the jig and bolted together. However, the second section did not sit correctly so Mr Sewell and a colleague attempted to force it into the jig using a sledge hammer and crowbar.

    These attempts failed and the telehandler was used to push the mast second section into the jig. The telehandler driver re-positioned the telehandler to move the final section into place. It was at this stage that the two 3m mast sections already in place toppled onto Mr Sewell.

    HSE told the court there was inadequate planning and supervision of the work and there had been no separation of vehicles from the assembly process. This led to the telehandler inadvertently pushing over the two sections of the tri-mast.

    Death preventable wth simple safety measures

    Universal Builders Supply Limited, of Rifle Street, London, was fined a total of £125,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 costs after being found guilty at an earlier hearing of three offences of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974,

    Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

    Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Graham Tompkins, said:

    “The loss of Mr Sewell was devastating for his family and friends and is made even more incomprehensible by the fact that it was completely avoidable.

    This tragic death could have been prevented had simple safety measures been thought through and put in place. Universal Builders Supply Ltd failed to plan the work properly, to provide appropriate instruction and to ensure there was competent supervision of the operation.”

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