Manufacturing company fined after worker fatally crushed

In May 2019, Steve Rooke, 55, was working in the workshop at Mifflin Construction Ltd in Herefordshire. The company manufacture and install steel components for the construction industry. Steve, who had worked at the company for more than 27 years was using an overhead travelling crane to lift the middle of three beams to position it better on a trolley or ‘bogey’ which ran on rails in the workshop. The beam he was lifting was 18m long and weighed 1,800Kg. As it was lifted, it rotated in a sling, toppling sideways and trapping him against another beam causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the HSE found that the company had failed to ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment was conducted by a competent person to identify well known industry standard control measures. Suitable and sufficient information, instruction, and training was not provided to employees about lifting operations at the site. The company did not properly plan lifts and did not have a system for ensuring that there were adequately qualified supervisors present during lifting operations.

Mifflin Construction Limited of Herefordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Steve Richardson said, “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Karen Rooke, Steve’s wife said, “Steve’s death has left a big hole in our lives. How can you move on when something like this has happened? It’s changed everything, every plan we had has gone and our future is cancelled. He was good at his job, hard-working and conscientious and I still struggle to understand how and why this happened. I’ve lost a husband and the girls have lost a loving dad and he’ll have missed out on so many things to look forward to like becoming a grandparent.”

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