A 37-year-old dad-of-one died after being crushed by a two-tonne steel beam in what health and safety officials say was an avoidable accident at work.
Warehouseman Mark Walker’s employer, steel supply firm CMC UK Ltd, has been fined a total of £112,500 and ordered to pay costs of £96,000 after admitting it breached health and safety at work laws.
The Cardiff-based firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It told Cardiff Crown Court that the warehouse accident happened in June 2012 while Mr Walker, of Newport, was working on his own and attempting to move the H-beam column on to a conveyor.
‘Warehouseman died at scene’
The court heard the employee had to separate a stack of 16-metre long steel beams and put them on to a conveyor feeding a computer-controlled saw that he was going to be using for the first time.
Mr Walker had used a crane to lift one of the beams, the HSE told the court, putting a pair of wooden bearers in the middle while attempting to attach hoist chains.
But as he did so the bearers gave way and the beam’s top column fell on to him. The court heard Mr Walker died at the scene of the accident.
The HSE said its investigation had established that although Mr Walker was an experienced warehouseman, he had not been trained for the task he was doing.
There were also no instructions for workers on how to safely split and lift the steel beams and no safe system of work was in place for the task.
Task ‘not adequately planned’
Following the conclusion of the court case the HSE’s inspector Dean Baker said the fatal accident had been avoidable.
He said the work Mr Walker had been asked to do hadn’t been adequately planned by his employer. The inspector said the risk of the columns falling should have been identified and steps taken to make sure they were separated at floor level or in a purpose-built rack before they were put on to the conveyor.
Mr Walker would not have died, he added, had workers been given adequate training and if the lifting operation had been properly planned and supervised.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: October 5, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown