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LIFTING GEAR CAUSED FALLING CONCRETE PANEL DEATH

Firm chose not to engage construction specialist on high risk task

A Cheshire company has been fined £50,000 after a father-of-one suffered fatal injuries when a 1.5 tonne concrete panel fell on him

Sean Bennett was helping to build a new shed at Yew Tree Farm in Stanthorne when the incident happened on 8 December 2010. The 30-year-old farm worker died in hospital two days later.

Liverpool Crown Court heard (13th May) that the company chose to build the new shed without the assistance of a specialist construction company.

Mr Bennett was involved in lifting concrete panels into place to form the walls of the new shed. This was done by suspending panels from a telehandler using chains and bolts to move them into place.

During the lifting of a panel the bolts attached to the lifting chains failed and the panel fell onto Mr Bennett. The firm had failed to carry out a proper assessment of the risks, or to make sure a safe system of work was in place.

Company was “out of its depth”

T Lea Sherwin Ltd, of Coalpit Lane in Stanthorne, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £28,585 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 12 May 2014.

Jane Carroll, the investigating inspector at HSE, added:

“The company is experienced in farming – not construction – but decided it was capable of building a new cowshed. Sadly, Sean lost his life as a result.

The project was poorly planned, and the lifting equipment provided wasn’t capable of raising concrete panels weighing 1.5 tonnes. It was therefore inevitable that the bolts would snap when the panel was being lifted.

The firm should have realised it was out of its depth and brought in a specialist contractor to carry out the work, rather than carrying on regardless and hoping for the best.”

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