Firm hit with fine after worker was crushed by topping unit

Health and safety
Health and safety

A Hemel Hempstead engineering firm has been fined for safety failings after a toppling fan unit crushed a worker.

The 54-year-old, who does not want to be named, injured his spine and was unable to work for several weeks as a result of an incident in Woking in December 2012 at a new-build head office for the World Wildlife Fund.

He was working for Wilden Services Limited, of Hemel Hempstead, which had been sub-contracted to install a ventilation system in the new building.

Guildford Crown Court heard on Friday that the large fan unit, weighing some 630kg, fell over as it was being moved on a pallet truck and pinned him underneath.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found it could have been prevented had a better system of work been in place.

Wilden Services Ltd, of Belswains Lane, Hemel, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay a further £7,148 in costs after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Denis Bodger said the worker, and indeed the company, was lucky the consequences were not more severe.

He said: “The employee was seriously injured and could have been paralysed had his spinal cord been damaged by the falling unit.

“Companies should always ensure that extreme care is taken when moving heavy items, and that includes properly assessing the risks in advance and agreeing a safe system of work.

“The incident was entirely avoidable with better planning and management.”