An engineering firm has been heavily fined after it pleaded guilty to health and safety offences at the Preston Crown Court.
Assystems UK Limited was ordered to pay over £200,000 in fines and costs after the death of Mr Liam O’Neill in an accident at work in Bamber Bridge on 12 March 2011. On the day in question Mr O’Neill was trying to replace a cable which linked the crane to a handheld control below. In order to enable Mr O’Neill to reach the cable the crane was moved over a platform which Mr O’Neill was standing on. However, as he tried to undertake the work the crane moved and Mr O’Neill was crushed between the guard rail of the platform and the crane itself. The 51-year-old worker died seven days later in hospital.
The Health and Safety Executive subsequently investigated the accident and concluded that there had been a number of health and safety breaches by the company, including a failure to put in place a safe system of work for employees and a failure to carry out an adequate risk assessment regarding the risks that the worksite posed to employees. It therefore recommended that the firm be prosecuted for failing to uphold adequate standards of health and safety.
The case came to the Preston Crown Court on 26 November 2013. Assystem UK Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – essentially, that it had failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the health, safety and welfare at work of all of its employees was protected. The Crown Court therefore fined the company £160,000 and ordered it to pay £52,500 towards the costs of the prosecution in bringing the case.
Neither Assystems UK Limited nor its criminal defence solicitors appear to have commented on the sentencing after the conclusion of the case.
HSE Inspector Mr Stuart Kitchingman stated after the sentencing: “Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn’t think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane. Assystem should never have allowed the end stops to be removed from the crane’s rails when it was still possible for workers to climb up the ladder onto the platform.”
Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in London
Please note that Redmans Solicitors were not associated with this case in any way