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General Motors Fined £150,000 Following Ellesmore Port Death

Owner Of Vauxhall Pleads Guilty To Safety Breaches


By Rob Dixon

Workplace injury lawyers have urged that lessons must be learned after General Motors UK was fined £150,000 in relation to a fatal accident at work, in which an employee was crushed in machinery at a factory in Ellesmere Port.

Ian Heard, 59, who had worked for Vauxhall for more than 40 years, was crushed in July 2010 when he entered part of a paint unit at the factory to try and free trolleys, known as skids, which had become stuck on a conveyer system. When he moved them, the machine restarted and he was killed.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed a doorway had been created through a wall at the back of the unit which allowed access when the power was not cut.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that a risk assessment in 2000 – ten years before the incident – had identified the danger that the access point posed, but no action was taken to address the issue.

Jonathan Betts, a workplace injury specialist and Partner at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office, said: “This case is a tragic and terrible one in which a loyal worker was killed as a result of serious safety failings which could and should have been addressed.

“What is perhaps the most disturbing aspect, is that the dangers of the access point were highlighted a decade before this incident, yet nothing was done in the intervening years to tackle the issue and ensure the safety of workers at the factory.

“The HSE states that the company involved has now installed a safety system, but for the family of the man involved in this incident it is simply too little, too late. It is vital that employers in sectors where the use of heavy machinery is common always ensure steps are taken to mitigate any risks that their employees could face.

“Health and safety must be the fundamental priority.”

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