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Joinery firm in court after worker crushed by falling MDF

Date:
26 June 2014

An Essex joinery firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee was crushed by half a tonne of fibreboards (MDF) at its premises in Basildon.

The 50 year old worker from Rayleigh, Essex, suffered two collapsed lungs, a broken collar bone, five broken ribs and a gash to his head following the incident on 26 September 2013. He was hospitalised for two weeks and returned to work on light duties in January 2014.

Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd was today (26 June) prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that more could and should have been done to prevent the boards from falling on him.

Basildon Magistrates’ Court heard that the employee was working in the joinery shop of the factory, selecting MDF boards to be cut down to size. The boards were stored vertically and leant against racking.

The worker had removed three boards, but as he removed the fourth, a suction effect caused a further 15 of the 30kg boards to topple over on top of him, knocking him over. As he fell he gashed his head on a stack of timber, and was then pinned to the concrete floor under the weight of the boards for several minutes before being freed.

HSE’s investigation found that the MDF boards were unsecured and not racked, and that the total approximate weight of the boards falling on the worker would have been half a tonne.

Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd of Bowlers Court, Honywood Road, Basildon, Essex, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £598 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kim Tichias said:

“The risks from falling timber and board material in the wood-working industry are well-known. There have been a number of incidents in recent years, including fatalities, where poorly-stored and unsecured boards have fallen on workers.

“Specialist Joinery Projects should have ensured boarding was secure and that there was a safe process for using and handling boarding for employees to follow. Simple and relatively inexpensive control measures, such as racking, would have prevented this incident and the serious injuries incurred by this worker.”

Health and safety advice about working in the woodworking industry can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/woodworking/index.htm

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. Regulation 10(4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Every employer shall ensure that materials and objects are stored in such a way as to prevent risk to any person arising from the collapse, overturning or unintended movement of such materials or objects.”
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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