7 Sep 2012

Death of Bradford worker after racking collapse

A Bradford firm has been ordered to pay £140,000 in fines and costs after admitting safety failures that led to the death of a 61 year-old worker who was crushed beneath an unsecured racking system.

The collapsed racking system at George Barker & Co, where Jim Murphy died
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 just feet away. The overloaded unit had not been bolted or secured in place.

Mr Murphy, of School Green Avenue, Thornton, had worked for refrigeration company George Barker & Co. (Leeds) Ltd for nine years.

The incident at the firm's factory in Highfield Road, Idle, on 1 December 2009, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which uncovered a 'catalogue of errors'.

Bradford Crown Court was told today (6 September) that Mr Murphy had been asked to help dismantle the stacking system so that the area in the premises could be reorganised. He was kneeling on the floor in an aisle removing labels from various parts when the unit next to him toppled. Mr Murphy's head hit a raised part of another machine nearby.

The court heard the racking was not bolted to the floor and other employees had started to use it to shelve components, making it increasingly unstable. HSE found there was no system at the company to safely move or inspect the racking, no indication of its maximum load and no training given to employees.

George Barker & Co (Leeds) Ltd 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.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Morag Irwin, who investigated the case, said:

"This was a tragedy that was entirely preventable and was devastating for Mr Murphy's family and, indeed, for the company and what is a close-knit workforce.

"Sadly the case was based on a catalogue of errors on the part of the company. There was no system to manage the racking, no identification of the racks and no inspection regime; no one had properly looked at the risks of the racking system or how to move it and re-install it safely. People joined in and helped out as and when.

"But most importantly there was nothing to identify that the racking was not in use - no warning notice or barrier tape. At some point, workers started to fill it. The more it began to fill, the more dangerous it became.

"I hope this case serves as an important reminder to companies to make sure racking systems are securely fixed and measures are in place to manage them carefully and, in particular, when they are being dismantled.

"George Barker & Co Ltd now has a system in place and has been very responsive to HSE throughout this process."

HSE Bulletin No: Y&H/160/12 (Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence)

I often think that racking is one piece of equipment that is often overlooked by companies when carrying out routine checks of workplace equipment. This case highlights the need to check racking systems regularly. They should have a thorough examination by a competent person on an annual basis but a visual check on a daily or weekly basis would certainly be good practice. This would certainly be the case in areas of racking with high levels of forklift traffic, as the potential for a racking collision can increase significantly and human nature often prevents a driver from reporting his mistake.

Good to Go Safety offer a simple but effective solution - simply attach a tag to the end of each bay and use the racking checklist to carry out a visual inspection of the structure. Checks range from the uprights & baseplates to the loads upon them and the cleanliness of the surrounding area. As ever, the Good to Go Safety system allows the findings to be placed inside the tag for all to see, whilst retaining a copy for management records. For more information visit www.goodtogosafety.co.uk

1 comment:

  1. the image clearly shows that construction workers don't have enough training for them to prevent this kind of accident.


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