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Fatal injury to employee sees firm facing large fine after investigation by Health and Safety Executive

View profile for Pauline Smith
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Fatal injury to employee sees firm facing large fine after investigation by Health and Safety Executive

North Somerset Magistrates’ Court recently heard a case, brought about as a result of an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, where an employee of a fencing company suffered fatal injuries after being struck by a stack of falling timber.

The fencing company and the owner of the yard that they rented, both pleaded guilty to breaching various regulations of safety legislation including the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

The accident, in 2017, involved the use of a telescopic fork lift truck, known as a telehandler, which was used to move timber. The machinery had not been subject to annual maintenance or independent safety checks, and the person operating the machine had not had sufficient or adequate training. As a result, the telehandler’s safety device, which should have stopped it being lifted too high, failed, causing the lift to raise beyond safe height, and subsequently caused the machine to tip over. This fell onto stacked timber, which then fatally crushed an employee.

During the investigation it was revealed that the yard supervisor for the fencing firm was not aware of the safe use of the machine, and also that the yard was insufficient to allow the safe stacking of timber material.

The fencing company were fined £35,000 and the yard owner was fined £3,000 with both parties ordered to pay £7,500 each in costs.   

The HSE inspector, speaking after the hearing recently, advised that the accident could have been avoided entirely if the machinery used had been properly maintained, and undergone mandatory inspections and safety checks. 

If you or a loved one have been injured in the workplace and are wondering whether you have the right to make a claim, then please contact our personal injury team on 0161 696 6235 or complete our online enquiry form.