A manufacturer of large concrete panels and a plant hire company were sentenced following the death of a worker at a factory in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
Nottingham Crown Court heard that on 8 July 2014 Richard Reddish, who was employed by Explore Manufacturing Ltd at its site on Explore Way, was working in the finishing area. He was working in a mobile elevating working platform (MEWP) removing the lifting attachments from the top of a concrete panel, which weighed about 11 tonnes and was stored on a transport pallet.
The accident took place when the panel started to topple, while he was standing in the raised MEWP basket. This first panel struck the MEWP throwing him from the basket. It also caused a number of other concrete panels to topple, one of which fell onto him. The transport pallets were supplied by Select Plant Hire Company Ltd who shared responsibility for their maintenance with Explore Manufacturing Ltd.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed that the frame used to secure the panel was not properly connected to the pallet, as a locking pin had not been correctly reinserted after the frame had previously 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. 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 £1.3million and ordered to pay costs of £13,922 while Select Plant Hire Company Ltd were fined £1.2million 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.”
This is such a tragic case of a talented man losing his life due to the negligence of the employer. A married father on a young son Charlie, the 29 year old was working in the finishing are at the factory when he died. Prosecutor Alexander Stein told the court one of the pins for a H-shaped frame locking it in position was not in place and the panel become nstable and toppled onto the working platform. Mr Reddish was throw onto freestanding panel, then hit a further panel and fell onto the ground. He was then crushed by the falling pabel and, very sadly, was killed instantly.
Judge Timothy Spencer QC stated that:
“There were more panels than the factory could cope with. This led to freestanding panels on wooden bearers on the factory floor. That was not causative of the death. It is symptomatic in the way business (sic) was operating at that time”.