An engineering firm has been fined over £80,000 after being prosecuted for the death of a worker at its factory in South Yorkshire after an accident at work.

Mr Alan Winters, 28, was employed as a crane driver by DavyMarkham Ltd at its factory in Darnall. He was crushed to death in July 2008 when he attempted to unload a crate from a shipping container.

The shipping container contained two crates. Mr Winters and other employees attempted to unload the crates but experienced difficulties in doing so. Although the forklift truck that they were using had a weight capacity of four tonnes, the first crate that they tried to unload was five tonnes. This meant that the workers unloading the crate had to use unorthodox methods that were both unsafe and initially unsuccessful. Eventually the crate was unloaded by dragging it from the container with the forklift truck.

This method was also tried with the second crate. However, the container became stuck and Mr Winter climbed on top of it to deal with a problem with one of the chains. The fatal accident occurred when the forklift reversed too far and caused the crate to tilt, trapping Mr Winter against the roof of the container.

DavyMarkham Ltd was subsequently prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) for serious breaches of the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974. They were found guilty of breaching their duty under s.2(1) of the Act to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees. No risk assessment had been undertaken prior to the arrival of the container and there had been a distinct lack of planning. Further, the unsafe loading procedures were allowed to continue whilst a risk assessment was undertaken and no effort was made to change or stop the procedure.

The employer was fined £33,333 and ordered to pay £39,247 costs.

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