Liverpool company fined by HSE following death of welder

Rachael Tinniswood

A Liverpool-based contractor has been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs by the Health & Safety Executive after a man was killed and another seriously injured when they were struck by a load that fell from a crane in March last year.

MRX Engineering Support Services, trading as Stackright Building Systems of Charleywood Road, Kirkby Industrial Estate, was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £16,941 costs at Liverpool Crown Court for breaching S 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 in that it failed to ensure the safety of its employees. The company pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Knowsley Magistrates Court.

Welder Keith Wharton, aged 41, from Kirkby was killed instantly and his colleague Christopher Cansfield, 31, from Bootle sustained severe injuries including a broken neck and leg in the incident on 8 March 2007 at the firm's premises.

HSE Inspector Iain Evans said: "Keith Wharton should not have died. His was an avoidable, pointless and unnecessary death in an environment where there were numerous safety issues. If the company which employed him had dutifully exercised its responsibility to ensure their safety, his family would not be here at court today grieving their loss.

"There is a very clear responsibility on employers and managers to safeguard their workers. There is plenty of advice and guidance within industry and from HSE on how to comply with the law. The failure to do so in this instance cost one man his life, and seriously injured his colleague."

The court heard that the Wharton was killed and Cansfield seriously injured when a steel lifting frame weighing more than half a tonne fell from an overhead crane. There was no safety catch on the hook of the crane, which could have prevented the load from falling. The company should not have allowed loads to be moved over people's heads and the crane operators had not been adequately trained in its safe use.

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