• Robert Spicer

Gerber Juice Health And Safety Prosecution

Crushing death: £80,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Gerber Juice Company Ltd (2014) Newport Crown Court, May 16

Gerber Juice Company Ltd has been fined after an engineer was killed by falling pipework.

Significant points of the case

  • In June 2010 Gavin Bedford was dismantling pipework at the company’s premises in Llantrisant, South Wales. The company had closed its factory in Llantrisant. The deceased was one of a small team temporarily employed to work with specialist contractors in stripping the factory of its plant.

  • The factory had become a construction site. The company planned, managed and monitored the project itself instead of appointing a competent principal contractor. The company had overlooked a number of hazardous jibs, including the removal of overhead industrial pipes and their supporting structures.

  • The deceased’s work had not been adequately planned, risk assessed, communicated or monitored by management. The safety systems which the company used to manage its specialist contractors had not been used to manage its own staff.

  • No written plan had been provided to the deceased and his colleagues explaining how the structure was to be safely taken apart. Bolts and structural elements were removed in an unsafe sequence.

  • A structure which weighed 300 kg fell on Bedford, causing fatal head injuries.

  • The site’s production manager was in charge of the decommissioning project despite never having received formal training, nor having done this type of work before.

The company was fined £80,000 plus £75,000 costs under section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

A spokesperson for the HSE is reported to have commented after the case that any demolition or dismantling work must be set down in writing and strictly monitored.

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