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Recent Health and Safety Fines and Prosecutions

Anyone providing advice on employment law in general, and health and safety law in particular, needs to be aware of the following recent prosecutions:

Deaths of mineworkers: £1.2 million fines

UK Coal Mining has been fined following the deaths of four mineworkers.

Significant points of the case

The deaths were as follows:

  • In June 2006 Trevor Steeples was killed at Daw Mill colliery near Coventry when he was exposed to high levels of methane.
  • In August 2008 Paul Hunt was killed at the same colliery when he fell from an inadequately maintained underground transporter into the path of a moving train.
  • In January 2007 Anthony Garriagn was killed at the same colliery as he worked with colleagues to install rockbolts to keep a tunnel support wall in position. he was crushed to death when more than 100 tonnes of inadequately supported coal and stone fell on him. The tunnel had previously collapsed and UK Coal should have supplied a safer system of support.
  • In November 2007 Paul Milner died at Welback colliery in Nottinghamshire. he was installing extra roof supports in order to salvage equipment from a coal face which had ceased production. Milner was crushed to death under 90 tonnes of rock when the roof collapsed. A suitable code of practice had been agreed to provide a safe system of work. This code was not properly implemented by UK Coal.

UK Coal Mining wads fined £112,500 plus £187,500 costs in respect of each death for breaches of sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSW Act), for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees and non-employees.

Sheffield Crown Court, December 2011.

Forklift truck death: £100,000 fines

Millenium Rubber International Ltd, a compnay which manufactures rubber surfaces for children’s playgrounds and  running tracks, and United Crane Services Ltd have been fined after a worker was killed when he fell from the forks of a forklift truck.

Significant points of the case

  • In June 2006 Martin Denton was working at Millenium Rubber’s factory in Macclesfield.
  • He was being lifted in a stillage (a metal container) when it slipped off the forks of a forklift truck. He fell four metres onto a concrete floor and suffered fatal head injuries.
  • United Crane Services had been contracted to repair an overhead crane at the factory. It allowed Denton to be lifted in a container which was not designed to carry people.
  • It was standard practice at the factory to use pallets and containers on forklift trucks to lift workers. Neither containers nor pallets were safe nor designed for that purpose.

Millenium Rubber was fined £90,000 plus £21,000 costs for a breach of section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

United Crane Services was fined £10,000 plus £5000 costs under section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

Chester Crown Court, December 2011.


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