Firms fined after worker dies during lifting operation

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Two companies have been fined after a metal fabricator died following a number of safety failings with lifting equipment

Preston Crown Court heard how, on 12 March 2012, Andrew Bowes, a metal fabricator employed by Larkin Eng Services Ltd, died while working at the company’s premises on Meeting Industrial Estate in Barrow in Furness.

Larkin Eng Services Ltd had contracted Cumbria Design Scaffold Ltd to collect two large metal walkways and deliver them to a customer using a flatbed lorry fitted with a mounted crane. Bowes was directed to assist with the lifting operation by his employer. The first walkway had been lifted onto the back of the lorry but was not fastened down. As the crane moved to pick up the second walkway, a sling became snagged on the first walkway, causing it to tip over and fall from the back of the lorry onto Andrew Bowes who sustained fatal crush injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Cumbria Design Scaffold Ltd had failed to properly plan the lifting operation. The company failed to recognise the risks involved and did not have a safe system of work for what was a complex lift. Cumbria Design Scaffold Ltd also failed to supervise the lifting operation properly. As a consequence, the lifting operation was poorly organised and controlled, placing those in the immediate vicinity at significant risk.

The investigation also discovered that Larkin Eng Services Ltd had failed in its duty to ensure the safety of Bowes. It had directed Bowes, who had only been working for the company a week, to become actively involved whilst the operation was taking place.

Cumbria Design Scaffold Ltd of Ulverston, Cumbria pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been ordered to pay fines of £60,000 and costs of £27,464.28.

Larkin Eng Services Ltd of, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been ordered to pay fines of £20,000 and costs of £27,211.09.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: “We would like to thank Andrew’s family for their patience throughout what has been a complex investigation.

“Companies should always ensure that lifting operations are properly planned, organised and conducted safely. Had this lifting operation been properly planned and supervised, then this tragedy could have been averted. HSE will take enforcement action against both clients and contractors who fail to meet the required standards.”

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