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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
July 9, 2010

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Firm’s neglect of storage advice implicated in crush death

A plastics manufacturer has been fined £140,000 in relation to the death of a cleaner at its depot in Rochdale.

Manchester Crown Court heard that the incident took place at TS (UK) Ltd’s facility at the Stakehill Industrial Estate in Middleton, on 15 July 2005.  Abel Lages, 38, was cleaning a spillage in the yard when a wooden pallet, containing 55 bags of polypropylene, fell on him.

The material, which is used to manufacture plastic products such as washing-up bowls, is dangerous to stack as it can pour out if there is a tear in a bag. It is believed that one of the bags on the corner of the pallet had split, which caused the stack to become unstable and fall on top of Mr Lages. He was found trapped underneath the collapsed pallet, which weighed nearly one and a half tonnes. He died at the scene as a result of serious crush injuries.

A Prohibition Notice was issued on the same day as the incident that ordered the company to stop double-stacking the pallets. HSE principal inspector, John McGrellis, revealed that the firm had ignored guidance from the manufacturer of the polypropylene, which warned against double-stacking the material in an outdoor environment.

He said: “Mr Lages died because TS (UK) Ltd didn’t treat the health and safety of its workers as a priority. There were labels on the polypropylene bags that made it clear how they should be stored safely, but this advice was ignored.

“The company didn’t provide guidance about how to stack the pallets, and no one trained in first aid was on duty to help try to resuscitate Mr Lages when the pallet fell on him.

“Since Mr Lages’ death, TS (UK) Ltd has changed how it stores pallets so that it no longer stacks them on top of each other. If this action had been taken previously, Mr Lages may still be alive today.”

Principal inspector McGrellis told SHP that case took a number of years to reach court due to delays in the inquest process, and waiting for the Crown Prosecution Service to hand over the investigation to the HSE.
TS (UK) Ltd appeared in court on 7 July and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 – fine £130,000, and reg. 3(2) of the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, for not having a trained first-aid worker on duty at the time of the incident – fine £10,000. It was also ordered to pay £10,588 towards the prosecution costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity. Following the incident it reviewed its storage procedures and installed silos, which transport the raw material directly to the injection-moulding machine.

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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