A Preston Engineering Firm Has Been Sentenced Following the Death of Employee, Asons Solicitors Comment

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According to the HSE, an engineering firm has been sentenced for numerous safety failings, after an electrician was crushed by an overhead crane. (1)

51-year-old Liam O’Neill had been trying to replace a control cable when the accident happened at Assystem UK Ltd on 12 March 2011. As a result of his injuries, he died in hospital seven days later. (1)

Assystem UK Ltd was prosecuted on the 26th November 2013, by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE,) after an investigation discovered that Mr O’Neill was working on a platform in the path of an overhead crane, without the power to the crane first being switched off. (1)

Preston Crown Court heard that the platform had been installed for a specific project in September 2000. End stops were previously fitted, which prevented the crane from reaching the platform; however these had since been removed. (1)

The platform had remained at the factory, but there was nothing to prevent the employees from using the platform while the crane was in operation. (1)

On the day of the incident, Mr O’Neill had been trying to replace a cable, which hangs down from the crane to a handheld control, after it had developed an intermittent fault.

The crane had been moved over the platform, allowing Mr O’Neill to replace the cable. As he was climbing on to the platform, the crane moved, and Mr O’Neill was crushed between the guard rails of the ladder, and the crane itself. (1)

The HSE investigation found the crane cleared the top of the guard rails around the ladder and platform by just 8.5cm. Despite thisthe company failed to identify the risk of workers being crushed by the crane if they used the platform. (1)

Commenting on the accident, Thomas Fairclough, Asons Executive at Asons Solicitors stated that:

“Any compensation awarded, as a result of this accident, can’t make up for the loss it has caused.

"This horrific accident at work could have been easily avoided, had the correct health and safety procedures been put in place, in this case they weren’t.

“The firm should have carefully considered the consequences of this particular task, and assessed the related risks to workers.

“Here at Asons, we strongly believe that no person should suffer serious injuries because of negligence from an employer. Those who have experienced similar working conditions should not hesitate to pursue health and safety compensation.”

Assystem UK Ltd, of Club Street in Bamber Bridge, was fined £160,000, and ordered to pay £52,500 in prosecution costs, after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. (HE261123) (1)

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said:

“Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn’t think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane.

“Assystem should never have allowed the end stops to be removed from the crane’s rails when it was still possible for workers to climb up the ladder onto the platform.

“It would have been simple to put a system in place to make sure power to the crane was switched off before anyone climbed onto the platform, or to put up a barrier to prevent access to the platform.”

Mr O’Neill’s widow, Deborah, added:

“My husband and I were married in 1984. We had our only child, Sophie, in 1989 and were a small but very happy family. When Liam had the accident at Assystem our whole world was blown apart.

“When he died a week later, Sophie and I were completely devastated. Sophie, at the young age of 21, had lost her father with whom she had a close and loving relationship. I had lost the man that I met at the age of 19 and was planning to spend the rest of my life with.

“We hope accidents like this can be prevented in the future so that other families don’t have to suffer as we have.”

According to the HSE, over the past 5 years, each year an average of 31 workers died in workplace accidents, there was also an average of more than 4 500 major injuries. (2)

Asons Solicitors suggest, that if someone would like to learn more about the consequences of an accident at work, or if they would like to better understand industrial diseases associated with manufacturing, like vibration white finger and industrial deafness claims, that such information is available at http://www.asons.co.uk, or via an expert helpline on 01204 521 133.

(1) Firm fined after worker crushed to death - http://press.hse.gov.uk/2013/firm-fined-after-worker-crushed-to-death/ - HSE November 2013
(2) Health and safety in the manufacturing sector - http://www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing/ - HSE November 2013

About Asons Solicitors:

Asons Solicitors is a Bolton-based law practice that specialises in personal injury and industrial disease claims. Founded by brothers Imran Akram and Kamran Akram, Asons Solicitors has developed to become a young and dynamic law firm that delivers practical solutions to clients in times of difficulty. Their continued focus on their staff has seen them awarded with the Investors in People “Gold Award”; which is reflected in the professional and personable approach they take in working with clients. They strive to grow and to develop, and their supportiveness and attention to detail ensures that their clients use them time and again.

For further information contact:
Email: info(at)asons(dot)co.uk
Website: http://www.asons.co.uk

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Imran Akram
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