Tuesday 29 May 2012

Forklift driver crushed underneath unstable storage stack

A haulage company has been fined £25,000 after a worker was crushed to death when a row of steel coils collapsed like dominos and trapping him underneath.

Alan Burr, 52, worked as a forklift driver at ABC (Grimsby) Ltd’s warehouse at Henderson Quay, Immingham Docks, in Grimsby. On 27 January 2010, he was stacking narrow-banded coils on rolls in batches of four or five, with a gap between each coil. Each coil measured five feet in diameter and weighed approximately one tonne. Mr Burr was standing between two of the rolls to repair damaged wrapping when one of them toppled, causing a domino effect in the stack. He was trapped underneath the fallen stack and died at the scene from crush injuries.
The HSE’s investigation learned that Mr Burr had worked for the company for more than 20 years, and the method for stacking the coils was commonly used by both Mr Burr and his colleagues.

HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham explained that the stacking method was completely unsuitable, as the stacks were unstable because there was nothing holding them in place. She went on to say that the company had failed to identify the risks presented by this method of work, and should have installed coil racks so the items could be stored safely. “Mr Burr was simply trying to do a good job and repair a tear in the polythene wrapping but it had these dreadful consequences,” said inspector Fotheringham. “Narrow-banded coils can be unstable when stored on roll end, as they can collapse in a domino effect and that, very sadly, is exactly what happened.  ABC had been storing this type of steel coil since April 2009, but had given no training to employees about how to handle and store them safely. This loss of life could have been avoided if sufficient instruction, training and the provision of inexpensive coil racks - which work on the same simple principle as a toast rack - had been provided by the company.”

ABC (Grimsby) Ltd appeared at Grimsby Crown Court on 17 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974, and reg.3(1) of the MHSWR 1999. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.
In delivering his sentence, Judge Simon Jack accepted the firm had a good safety record prior to the incident. He examined the firm’s financial means and decided against imposing a larger fine, which would have risked the company going into liquidation, as it had recently lost a large contract with ConocoPhillips. He said: “I don't believe it should be forced into liquidation and I suspect Mr Burr would not have wanted that.”

Mr Burr's widow Mandy said it was hard to explain the loss she and her family have suffered. She said: “Losing Alan was one of the worst days I can ever remember. Alan and I had planned to grow old together and always be there for each other, but that was taken away in a split second.

Source: SHP

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