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18th May 2022

Engineering Firm Fined £500K After Fatal Crush Incident

Engineering firm fined for fatal accident

What’s Happened?

A Lancashire based engineering company has recently been fined £500,000 with costs of £145,487 following a fatal incident concerning one of their employees during the maintenance of machinery.

The company specialises in the manufacture of containers and drums for the nuclear, aerospace and medical industries. An employee of the business was understood to have been lying on his back, underneath the raised middle section of a Hugh Smith 1000 tonne capacity press, using a hand-held electric grinder to remove a weld from the base of a large metal piston. Unfortunately, when the weld was removed, the internal ram fell through to the ground, crushing the employee and resulting in his instant death.

HSE Investigation

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Graham Engineering Ltd failed to carry out a risk assessment and ensure a safe system of work on the Hugh
Smith 1000 tonne capacity press. Additionally, the 20-tonne middle section of the press was raised using forklift trucks which exceeded their safe working load, in order to access the underside of the press.

In Court

Following a trial in front of a jury at Preston Crown Court, Graham Engineering Ltd was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The Company was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £145,487. The Managing Director was actually acquitted of an associated charge under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and so was not convicted – Section 37 states that if a company commits a health and safety offence then its directors or senior managers can be prosecuted for breaching the law if the offence was due to their consent or connivance or attributable to their neglect.

Speaking after the hearing HSE principal inspector involved in the case said: “An unsafe system of work was adopted by Graham Engineering Ltd whilst undertaking hazardous work and the ensuing sequence of events led to the untimely death of [name redacted]. This tragic incident could have been avoided if the task had been adequately risk assessed and supervised to ensure safe procedures were followed.”

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