Firm fined £1 for banksman fatality
A metal manufacturer, which went into administration in March last year, has been fined £1, in relation to a lifting operation that resulted in a worker fatality.
Bruce Dempsey, 25, from Eccles, was killed at Applied Fusion Ltd’s factory in Patricroft, Manchester when a machine weighing half a tonne fell from a forklift truck and struck him on the head. He was working as a banksman when the incident occurred on 2 December 2009. He died at the scene.
Manchester Crown Court heard that the company had been moving four lathes into a bigger workshop at the factory. The fourth machine was attached to a metal table, under which the truck’s forks were positioned, so it could be moved. However, as the forklift driver did so, the lathe became unstable and fell, resulting in Mr Dempsey’s death.
The court was told the company had taken over the factory six weeks before the incident, but a general health and safety audit had not been carried out at the new premises.
The HSE investigated the incident and found the company had not planned the work in advance, so that the machine could be moved safely. The firm had its own qualified and competent engineer, who was responsible for overseeing lifting operations, but it failed to inform him that it was planning to move the machines.
The forklift operator, who lifted the machine, had attended a one-day driver’s training course in October 2006, but was not trained and competent to lift any complicated loads that were not on pallets.
HSE inspector Mike Lisle said the company could have placed the machine on a pallet first before carrying out the lift, or it could have strapped the machine to the forklift truck. The firm could also have ensured that banksmen were far enough out of the way when the task was being carried out.
Sentenced on 6 February, Applied Fusion Ltd was found guilty of breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. The court found the administration of the company to be above board. No mitigation was offered.
Speaking after the hearing, inspector Lisle said the HSE pursued the case through the courts because the incident was such an obvious breach. He commented: “It was important to bring this case to court to raise awareness of this issue, so that similar tragic incidents can be prevented from happening again.
“Workers at the factory were told to move heavy, bulky machinery using a forklift truck, and the company should have made sure the work was properly planned in advance. If the machine had been strapped to the forks, and workers told to stay a safe distance away, then Mr Dempsey’s death could have been avoided.”
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