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April 18, 2010

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Corus fined GBP 240,000 following latest fatality

Corus has appeared in court for health and safety breaches for the fourth time in six weeks — this time in relation to the death of a lorry driver at its site in Staffordshire.

Stafford Crown Court heard that the incident took place at the firm’s depot in Wombourne on 4 January 2007. Ross Beddow was working as a sub-contracted shunter at the site and, on the day of the incident, he was helping to load steel plates on to a trailer.

An overhead crane was being used to lift the plates from one part of  the trailer to the other. Mr Beddow was standing on the trailer and, together  with the crane operator, attached the lifting tackle to the plates. Owing to a  mis-communication between the two, however, the  tackles were placed into different spaces, consequently, when  the three-tonne plates were lifted they were not level, and fell. The plates  knocked Mr Beddow to the ground, then landed on top of him. He died from serious  crush injuries.

HSE inspector Dr Wai-Kin Liu said: “This was a tragedy that could and should have been avoided. All the steps involved in an overall task should be analysed to create a safe system of work, and the consequences of something going wrong should always be taken into account.

“Anyone can make errors – no matter how well trained and motivated they are – but employers must develop a safe way of working that helps to prevent mistakes and reduces the severity of the consequences if they do occur. If Corus had a safe system of working, then Mr Beddow would not have been killed simply doing his job.”

Corus UK Ltd appeared in court on 13 April and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. On top of the £240,000 fine it was ordered to pay full costs of £112,500.

In mitigation, the firm said it deeply regretted the incident and has subsequently built a platform so that shunters don’t have to stand on the trailers to secure loads.

This fine was the largest of the four enforced on the company in the last six weeks. Asked for a statement on the case in light of its record, Corus told SHP: “The health and safety of our employees and contractors is our most important priority. Corus constantly places a great deal of emphasis on creating a strong and ever-improving safety culture in the organisation.”

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