A Stark Warning

A closeup of the lock of a jail cell with iron bars and a bunch of key in the locking mechanism with the door open

I know we constantly bang on about health & safety at work but it is so essential for Company Directors to take personal responsibility to train and protect the safety of their workers…..as the consequences are devastating.

Company Director Kenneth Thelwall, from Enfield, has been jailed for 12 months following the death of one of his employees resulting from the overturn of a spider lift during loading. This fatality follows the guilty plea from Mr Thelwall over a seperate incident in 2010 when employee Bernard Rowson was crushed to death in a metal gate.

In the more recent incident of 29 January 2014, Paul Williamson, 51, was fatally injured when the 18 metre spider lift he was loading in a street in Stockport, overturned on him as he walked alongside with the remote controller.

Manchester Crown Court heard how the father-of-three had not been adequately trained on the use of the ramps, the lorry and the Mobile Elevated Working Platform (MEWP). There was no risk assessment in place and no safe system of work had been created for the equipment, which had only been in operation for eight days.

The gradient of the ramps were above the manufacturer’s specification and they were not secured to the lorry. As the MEWP, a Spider 1800, was loaded onto the truck it toppled off the ramps onto Paul Williamson.

Company Director Kenneth Thelwall, Burleigh Road, Enfield, was charged under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £4,000. He was also disqualified from being a Company Director for seven years.

Thorn Warehousing Ltd was charged under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act  and was fined £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs.

The company is currently in administration.

Judge Leeming said: “Two men have now tragically died in the workplace at a time when you were the Sole Director of the company. You have shown your intention to never again be a Director of a company, but you may change your mind so I disqualify you from being a Director of a company for seven years.”

HSE’s Inspector, Helen Jones said: “Kenneth Thewall failed in his duty as a Director to protect his workers. He was involved in the day-to-day running of Thorn Warehousing Ltd and should have ensured the company provided Paul Williamson with the right equipment and training to carry out his job. Had he done so, Mr Williamson would still be alive today.

“This case should act as a stark warning to all Company Directors of their personal responsibility to protect their workers’ health and safety and the tragic consequences when they fail.”

If you require any advice on health & safety within the workplace, please contact the team at Ferguson Legal

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