Food refrigeration firm told to pay £140k over fatal accident

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Accident

The fatal accident happened when an ‘A’ frame metal racking unit toppled over
The fatal accident happened when an ‘A’ frame metal racking unit toppled over
Food refrigeration firm George Baker & Co has been ordered to pay £140,000 after admitting safety failures that led to the death of a 61-year old worker, who was crushed beneath an unsecured racking system.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out following the incident on December 1 2009 uncovered a “catalogue of errors”​ by the Bradford based refrigerator company.

Head injuries

Jim Murphy died from head injuries when the ‘A’ frame metal racking unit, weighing more than a quarter of a tonne, toppled over and pinned him underneath. As he fell, his head hit part of another machine.

Bradford Crown Court was told that the racking had not been bolted to the floor and secured in place.

The court heard that Murphy had been asked to dismantle the stacking system so that the area in the premises could be reorganised. He was kneeling on the floor when the unit next to him toppled over and his head hit the raised part of another machine.

‘Entirely preventable’

HSE inspector Morag Irwin, who investigated the case, said that the tragedy was “entirely preventable”​ and was “devastating”​ for both Murphy’s family and the company.

Irwin said: “Sadly the case was based on a catalogue of errors on the part of the company, no one had properly looked at the risks of the racking system or how to move it and re-install it safely.

“But, most importantly, there was nothing to identify that the racking was not in use, no warning notice or barrier tape.”

George Baker & Co now has a system in place and the HSE described the company as “very responsive” ​throughout the process.

George Barker & Co (Leeds) was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company had admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.

Nearly 4,000 people suffered a major injury while working in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2010/11 and 27 lost their lives, according to the latest HSE figures.

Related topics: Legal

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