A manufacturing company has been found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, causing the death of one of its employees in a crane accident.
In July 2011, Michael Wickstead (63) of Greater Manchester was employed for Refinery Supplies Ltd. At the time of the accident, Michael had been working on manufacturing a three-tonne steel container, which was resting on a stand that was secured in place by chains hanging from an overhead crane. One of his colleagues was moving another container with an overhead crane when the two cranes collided in the air. The collision caused the container on which Michael was working to fall, crushing him underneath it.
Michael’s injuries proved fatal. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into his death, and the work environment and circumstances surrounding it. When the investigation was complete, it was revealed that there was no clear working system implemented to ensure that the employees were not at risk of being involved in crane accidents, and there was no safety mechanism implemented-such as anti-collision devices-to prevent the two cranes from crashing into each other.
Refinery Supplies Ltd-who specialise in manufacturing equipment for the lead and zinc refining industry-were prosecuted with a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by the HSE. At the Manchester Crown Court, representatives from the company pleaded guilty to the charges and for failing to ensure that the necessary precautions were implemented to prevent such deaths. The company was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.
The HSE Inspector involved with the case-Helen Jones-said:
“Michael sadly lost his life because the safety standards of his employer fell well below the minimum legal standards. “Refinery Supplies knew there was a risk of cranes colliding at the factory and, in fact, this had happened on several previous occasions without the same catastrophic result. However, the firm failed to take any action to make sure workers weren’t put at risk of being injured”.
“It’s vital that manufacturers carefully consider the dangers facing their employees and then implement safety improvements. If Refinery Supplies had done this then Michael’s tragic death could have been avoided.”