• Robert Spicer

Oldham Factory Crushing Death:Health And Safety Prosecution

Factory death: £95,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Refinery Supplies Ltd (2014) Manchester Crown Court, October 24

Refinery Supplies Ltd, a manufacturing company, has been fined following the death by crushing of an employee.

Significant points of the case

  • In July 2011 Michael Wickstead, an employee of the company, was working at its site in Oldham. He was working with a large steel container used to contain molten lead or zinc.

  • The container was resting on a stand with chains hanging down to it from an overhead crane. Another crane collided with the crane and the container fell onto Wickstead, causing fatal crush injuries.

  • The company should have had a clear working system in place to prevent workers being injured. This could have included fitting anti-collision device or making sure that there was a safe method in place to avoid the cranes coming into contact with each other.

  • The company was fined £90,000 plus £35,000 costs for a breach of section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

An HSE inspector commented that the company knew that there was a risk of cranes colliding. This had happened on several previous occasions without the same catastrophic result. But the company had failed to take any action to make sure that workers were not put at risk of being injured.

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