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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 13, 2012

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Worker with 40 years’ service killed while moving unsecure delivery

A family-run catering business has been fined £60,000 after a worker was killed when a number of tables he was moving collapsed on him.

David Churchill, 58, had worked for Rayners Catering Hire Ltd for more than 40 years and his brother-in-law is the company’s managing director. In addition to providing catering services the company hired out folding tables. On 21 July 2009 a driver, who was employed by one of the firm’s customers, was returning 25 tables to the catering company’s headquarters at Garratt Lane, in south-west London.

The driver was told to load the tables into metal caddies and move them over to a warehouse on the site. The caddies each had three closed sides and an open side, which should have featured safety straps to hold loads in place. The driver selected three caddies but only one of them had safety straps. He then stacked the tables on the caddies and moved them over to the warehouse.

Mr Churchill was moving the delivery inside the building, when the tables on one of the strapless caddies overturned and fell on him, causing him to fall backwards and strike his head on the ground. He suffered serious head injuries and died in hospital two days later.

Members of the health, safety and licensing team at Wandsworth Council visited the site on the same day as the incident. A number of safety failings was identified and it was also found that the tables had been stacked incorrectly, as they were facing the open side, rather than being stacked at a right-angle to it. The council issued a Prohibition Notice, which required the company to stop using the caddies until a safe system of work was put in place.

Martin New led the investigation for the council and he told SHP that Rayners Catering Hire had failed to remove defective caddies from use, and also failed to ensure the tables were transported safely. He said: “Visitors to the site, such as the driver, were not given any instruction or guidance about which caddies to choose, or how to load them safely.

“Defective caddies should have been tagged or isolated, and there was no effective system in place to ensure that only caddies with straps were used.”

Rayners Catering Hire appeared at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court on 25 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay £9950 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it entered an early guilty plea and complied with the enforcement notice by replacing the caddies with flatbed trollies. The firm said it had been greatly affected by Mr Churchill’s death, as he was not only an employee but also a much-loved family member.

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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