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DEATH AND POORLY MANAGED RISK FINED £3.8 MILLION

Unstable precast concrete panels toppled MEWP and crushed operator

A precast concrete panel manufacturer and a plant hire company have been fined a total of £3.8 million following the death of a worker at a factory in Worksop, Nottinghamshire in July 2014.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that Richard Reddish was employed by Explore Manufacturing Ltd and was working in the finishing area.

He was working in a mobile elevating working platform (MEWP) removing lifting attachments from the top of an 11 tonne concrete panel stored on a transport pallet.

He died when the panel toppled striking the MEWP throwing him from the basket. The falling panel caused a number of other concrete panels to topple and one of these panels fell onto him.

Pallets in poor condition and storage dangers

The transport pallets were supplied by Select Plant Hire Company Ltd who shared responsibility for their maintenance with Explore Manufacturing Ltd.

HSE investigators confirmed that the frame used to secure the panel was not properly connected to the pallet. A locking pin had not been correctly reinserted after the frame had been replaced and there was no system of pre-use checks.

The pallets were in a poor condition, with defects including missing support bearers and stabilising legs.

Other failures included the storage of large freestanding concrete panels in the finishing area, which should have been secured in storage racks, and a lack of sufficient planning.

Avoidable death of a young man

The investigation also identified concerns with the wider systems for the storage of concrete panels at the site.

  • Explore Manufacturing Limited –  of Bridge Place, Anchor Boulevard, Admirals Park Crossways, Dartford, Kent DA2 6SN, pleaded guilty to the charge of breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work Etc Act 1974 in that they failed to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare of its employees during the transportation and storage of the pre-cast concrete panels.
  • Select Plant Hire Company Limited – of the same address, pleaded guilty to the charge of breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 in that the company failed to properly maintain the transport pallets in operation at the Explore facility and thereby exposed the Explore employees to risks to their health and safety.

Explore Manufacturing Limited – was fined £2million and ordered to pay costs of £13,922 while Select Plant Hire Company Ltd were fined £1.8million and ordered to pay costs of £13,922.

Speaking after the hearing Stuart Pilkington, HSE Inspector, said

“This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man, whose death could easily have been prevented if the companies had acted following previous warnings to identify and manage the risks involved, maintain the equipment, and put a safe system of work in place.”

Comments

All sentencing of health and safety offences is governed by the Sentencing Guidelines which came into effect in February 2016.

The guidelines state that sentences should be based, inter alia, on any harm caused and the risk of harm created, even where no actual harm occurs.

This case appears to reflect both the fatal consequences of the offence and the risk of harm found during the HSE / Police investigation.

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