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Farmer crushed by badly fitted door

Date:
16 April 2013

A North Yorkshire farmer died when he was crushed under a half-tonne roller shutter door that had been badly installed, a court has heard today (16 April).

Robert Ireland, 71, died from multiple injuries on 28 October 2010 at the family farm in East Heslerton, near Malton, when a roller shutter door that had been recently fitted fell from its ‘flimsy’ mountings. 

After an investigation into the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought a prosecution for safety breaches against the owner of the firm who supplied the door and the fitter who installed it.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Paul Halliwell, from Stockport, Manchester, who has since wound up his small company ‘Easydoor’, admitted a single charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Fitter David Whittaker, of Hyde, Manchester, also pleaded guilty to one charge of the same legislation.  

The court was told that Mr Ireland had the roller shutter door installed in July 2010 by Mr Whittaker, who had 18 years’ experience at the time, assisted by a trainee. The door was installed in the grain store at Manor Wold Farm. It had been in place for nearly four months but only used around dozen times before the incident.

Mr Ireland, who was born at the farm and lived there with his wife, went to the barn and as he opened the roller shutter door, it came off its mountings and the entire door, weighting 424kg, fell some 4.5m to the ground, pinning him underneath.

HSE found that the door fell because there was a mismatch between the length of the door barrel and the distance between the supporting brackets. As a result, the end of the barrel that came free from the mountings first, was only held in place by a few millimetres. The installation problem was compounded by flimsy brackets supporting the shutter that could be easily deflected outwards by several millimetres due to the stresses created as the door was operated.

Paul Halliwell, of Beaufort Road, Stockport, was given 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay £2,000 toward costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. David Whittaker of Bradley Green Road, Hyde, was also given 200 hours’ community service and told to pay £2,000 towards costs for breaching Section 7(a) of the same Act.

After the hearing, Inspector Geoff Fletcher said:

"This was a tragic incident that was a sudden and devastating shock for Mr Ireland’s wife and family"

"This type of incident, where the entire shutter door has fallen because the door was not securely fastened to its mountings, has occurred before and resulted in serious injuries. Installers should have the appropriate design and installation considerations to prevent it happening.

"There are several relatively simple methods that could have been used to prevent this door from coming loose from its mountings. Such methods are well known within the industry and specialist guidance on the matter is published by them and is widely available."

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risk to their health & safety.
  3. Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: It shall be the duty of every employee while at work (a) to take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.

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