Two charged after worker dies from statue fall

Michael Hunt

A neon-sign manufacturer and its director have been fined a total of £12,000 after a worker was killed when he fell from Manchester's Albert Memorial statue.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted Taylor Electronics in Manchester and its Wigan-based director, John Taylor, following the incident.

Ian Gutteridge was fitting a giant necklace to the 140-year-old statue when the cherry picker he was working on overturned. An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive showed that the cherry picker had not been properly stabilised before being used.

Gutteridge suffered head and chest injuries in the fall on 4 April 2007. He did not regain consciousness and died in hospital the next day. A photographer, who was also on the platform, was knocked unconscious but made a full recovery.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Taylor Electronics had agreed to fit the necklace, a giant glowing cross, to the statue in Albert Square to promote a jewellery exhibition in Manchester Town Hall.

Sandra Tomlinson, an inspector for the Health & Safety Executive, said: "Mr Gutteridge's death has had a devastating impact on his family, and it could easily have been prevented by properly stabilising the cherry picker.

"Taylor Electronics agreed to carry out an unusual job to help publicise the jewellery exhibition, but it then took unacceptable risks to achieve it. Mr Gutteridge would still be alive today if the correct safety procedures had been followed."

Taylor Electronics and John Taylor each pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers.

Taylor Electronics, of Chester Road in Manchester, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000. John Taylor, of Greenfield Road in Atherton, was fined £2,000.

Tomlinson added: "Only one of the four legs on the cherry picker vehicle had been fully extended, which made it dangerously unstable. I hope this tragic case will highlight how important it is for companies to treat health and safety seriously."

The Health & Safety Executive said last year more than 4,000 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height at work and 15 were killed.

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