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Poorly planned lift leads to fatality at manufacturer

15 February 2019

Two companies were fined following the death of a 37-year-old worker, Andrew Bowes in 2012.

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

Larkin Eng Services had contracted Cumbria Design Scaffold to collect two large metal walkways and deliver them to a customer using a flatbed lorry fitted with a mounted crane. Mr 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 Mr Bowes who sustained fatal crush injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Cumbria Design Scaffold 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 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 found that Larkin Eng Services had failed in its duty to ensure the safety of Mr Bowes. It had directed Mr Bowes, who had only been working for the company a week, to become actively involved while the operation was taking place.

Cumbria Design Scaffold 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 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.”

Prevent it

The Safer Logistics Zone, part of The Health & Safety Event at the NEC in Birmingham from April 9-11, aims to help managers tackle the underlying causes of incidents such as these.

The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) is one of the event’s educational partners and bring a wealth of expertise on the correct specification, maintenance and use of lifting equipment. 

At Safer Logistics, Ricardo German, Technical Assistant, The Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) will present on The importance of taking responsibility for lifting equipment maintenance. The recent collapse of a crane at Falmouth docks was not a one-off, says LEEA. It shows the absolute necessity of implementing a strict maintenance regime for all logistics and industrial cranes and lifting equipment. Here, LEEA illustrates the importance of monitoring crane design working periods.

The Safer Logistics seminar theatre will tackle key safety hot spots in the world of logistics, warehousing, storage and handling.

Presentations also include Driver Health: Asking the awkward questions, from Andrew Drewary, road risk consultant, speaking on behalf of The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport (CILT). HGV drivers can face sleep, fatigue, drug, and alcohol problems among a wide range of driver health issues. This presentation gives managers the tools to develop a proactive approach to tackling the problem.

Jonathan Bennett, Chair SEMA Distributor Group, and Simon King, ex-Chair of SEMA Distributor Group, will argue cutting corners on rack safety can cost millions, a life, or your freedom.

Stuart Taylor, managing director of Mentor Training, will present on behalf of the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA). In Forklift accidents: 10 common causes, 1 recurring theme, Stuart Taylor breaks down ten common causes of forklift accidents and reveals the theme that links them all. You’ll be given practical tips that can be easily applied on your site to significantly reduce the risk of accidents at a relatively low cost, keeping you compliant while retaining profitability.

Accrediting body RTITB will give a expert view on safety training and leading forklift manufacturer, Toyota Material Handling UK will sponsor the Safer Logistics Zone at the NEC in 2019.

You can register for the event here.