An Oldham based manufacturer has been prosecuted and fined £70,000 after a worker was crushed to death. The victim, Frank Dunne, aged 53, was operating a side-loader lift truck on the premises of R Tindall (Fabricators) Ltd on 17th April 2015. At the time of the incident, Mr Dunne’s vehicle was already loaded with a vacuum-packed pipe bundle. When he attempted to load a second bundle – which weighed 1.5 tonnes – it fell, crushing Mr Dunne.
At the inquest, which was held in March of this year, it was highlighted that the pipes in question were 6metres in length and each weighed over a tonne each. The court was told a theory during the hearing that the vibrations from the lift truck Mr Dunne was operating may have caused the pipes to topple from the side-loader.
Unfortunately there were no witnesses at the incident site and Mr Dunne was found 90 minutes later when co-workers moved the side-loader, which was still moving. After moving the fallen pipes with a crane, Mr Dunne’s lifeless body was found beneath.
An investigation carried out by the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) following Mr Dunne’s death found that R Tindall (Fabricators) Ltd had no risk assessment in place, nor a documented system for moving and stacking pipework – or any other materials – around the site. The company, which manufacturers sprinkler systems and pipework, was also found to have changed its method of packing bundles, but had not documented this anywhere.
The previous method used, which utilised a wooden framework, was a much more stable method. The court heard that if this method had been used on this occasion, Mr Dunne’s life would not have been put at risk.
At the hearing, R Tindall (Fabricators) Ltd pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was ordered to pay costs of £5,000, in addition to their fine. HSE Inspector, Mike Lisle, commented: “There was no risk assessment carried out on this new method of working and no system put in place for the operators to follow. If the company had provided a safe system of work for their employees to follow, this tragic incident to Mr Dunne could have been avoided.”