A worker died at a company in Bradford when an unsecured racking unit collapsed on top of him. The HSE prosecuted George Baker & Co which resulted in the company being fined £110,000 and ordered to pay costs of £30,000.
The company had been dismantling the racking system as part of a reorganisation of the factory. The racking was not bolted to the floor but was being used to store components, which had made it increasingly unstable. The racking toppled over onto the man and he struck his head on a machine, killing him as a result of the head injuries received.
The HSE investigation identified a number of safety failings; including a lack of planning and training on the task. It was found that no one had looked properly at the risks of moving the racking system, or how to move it and re-install it safely.
It is an important reminder of the need to carefully complete a risk assessment for tasks that are non-routine or out of the ordinary, and to seek professional help if the risks are not properly understood. This case reminds us of situations in businesses that we have visited; where to a trained safety professional the risks have clearly not been controlled to a safe level but this has not been understood by the business. It’s all too easy to get lost in the ‘must keep the business going’ philosophy because time is money. However this case shows that when it goes wrong the consequences are often extreme.