Firms Fined Over Worker's Death

Workplace fatalities

31.07.2008

Two contractors have been ordered to pay out nearly £270,000 between them after a worker was killed when plastic ties holding up a guard rail gave way.

Hans Zdolsek fell 8.5 metres while working at the Wilkinsons distribution centre, Worksop, in February 2004. Plastic tie wraps were used to secure guard rails on a staircase at the site.

Main contractor Siemens Dematic, now known as Oldbury (Banbury), was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £47,000 costs at Nottingham Crown Court.

Racking installation contractor Stow (UK) was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £41,000.

The fines came after both pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Meanwhile, Siemens Dematic project manager David Hill was found not guilty of manslaughter but received a £2,500 for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The site's health and safety director David Hastie was also fined the same amount for a breach of the Act.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Mark Dawson said a simple measure, such as fixing nuts and bolts used elsewhere at the site, would have prevented the tragedy, adding: "It seems almost inconceivable that professional people should consider plastic tie wraps to be a suitable means of securing guard rails."

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David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: I welcome the fines imposed for the tragic but avoidable work accident.

"Falls from height remain a major source of serious and fatal industrial accidents. As such, I was astounded to hear the circumstances surrounding this work accident.

"I represent many people who have been injured or killed in accidents at work in circumstances that could and should have been avoided."