Engineering firm fined £500,000 after fatal incident

On 21st May 2018, whilst working at Graham Engineering’s site in Whitehalls Industrial Estate, Colin Willoughby was lying on his back, underneath the raised middle section of a Hugh Smith 1000 tonne capacity press, using a hand-held electric grinder to remove a weld from the base of a large metal piston. When the weld was removed, the internal ram fell through to the ground, crushing Mr Willoughby resulting in instant death.

The HSE investigation found Graham Engineering Ltd failed to carry out a risk assessment and ensure a safe system of work on the Hugh Smith 1000 tonne capacity press. The 20-tonne middle section of the press was raised using forklift trucks which exceeded their safe working load, to access the underside of the press.

Following a trial in front of a jury Graham Engineering Ltd of Whitehalls Industrial Estate, Nelson was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Company was fined £500,000 and ordered to pays costs of £145,487

Graham Engineering Ltd’s Manufacturing Director was acquitted of an associated charge under Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing HSE principal inspector Steven Boyd said, “An unsafe system of work was adopted by Graham Engineering Ltd whilst undertaking hazardous work and the ensuing sequence of events led to the untimely death of Mr Willoughby. This tragic incident could have been avoided if the task had been adequately risk assessed and supervised to ensure safe procedures were followed”.

Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. For more information on our services, and how we can help you, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us