Shropshire Star

Firm fined £120,000 over death of employee killed during steel beam lift

A business has been fined £120,000 over failings that led to the death of an employee.

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The firm was fined at Kidderminster Magistrates Court.

Mifflin Construction of Worcester Road, Leominster, was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates Court on Monday.

The firm had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of 'failing to discharge its general health, safety and welfare duty to an employee'.

The charge related to the death of a long-standing employee, Steven Rooke, 54, who was killed in an incident at the premises on May 24, 2019.

The court heard that Mr Rooke had been fatally injured while steel beams were being moved – a process which was part of the daily routine at the firm.

The piece of steel involved in the incident was 18 metres long and weighed 1,800kg.

The prosecution had told the court that no lift plan was in place for the move, that the chain slung around the beam was not safe under the circumstances, and that there was no safe place to stand while the operation was carried out.

While being moved, the beam rotated in the sling, toppled sideways and hit Mr Rooke with what was described as "disastrous consequences".

The judge presiding over the case said it was not that there was 'no health and safety' at the company, but that there were a number of gaps, such as a lack of recent training, no risk assessment, and no appointed person to monitor and make sure health and safety was maintained.

The court heard that mitigation for the firm had highlighted that it had been operating for many years with no history of anyone else being seriously injured, had pleaded guilty, and had no previous convictions.

It was also explained that changes had taken place at the firm since Mr Rooke's death.

However, the judge said there had been "a significant number of failures" – including no lift plans, no person present who could plan the lifts, no written system of work, no assessment to look at the presence of obstacles, and no adequate training for employees.

The firm was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs.

After discussions where the judge was told the firm may struggle to pay the fine he allowed for the company to pay "no less than £2,500 a quarter", and to pay the total in four years.

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