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Engineering firm in court after toppling unit crushes worker

Date:
20 June 2014

A Hertfordshire engineering firm has been fined for safety failings after a toppling fan unit crushed a worker as it was being manoeuvred into a ground floor plant room at a Surrey development.

The 54-year-old, who does not want to be named, injured his spine and was unable to work for several weeks as a result of the incident in Woking on 17 December 2012 at a new- build head office for the World Wildlife Fund.

He was working for Wilden Services Limited, of Hemel Hempstead, which had been sub-contracted to install a ventilation system in the new building.

Guildford Crown Court heard today (20 June) that the large fan unit, weighing some 630kg, fell over as it was being moved on a pallet truck and pinned him underneath.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found it could have been prevented had a better system of work been in place.

Wilden Services Ltd, of Belswains Lane, Hemel Hempstead, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay a further £7,148 in costs after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Denis Bodger commented:

“The employee was seriously injured and could have been paralysed had his spinal cord been damaged by the falling unit.

“Companies should always ensure that extreme care is taken when moving heavy items, and that includes properly assessing the risks in advance and agreeing a safe system of work.

“The incident was entirely avoidable with better planning and management.”

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) 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 risks to their health or safety.”
  3. Further HSE information and news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk.

 

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