Health and Safety News

Occupational health and safety news and guidance

Death of Bradford worker 'avoidable'

The collapsed racking system at George Barker & Co, where Jim Murphy diedA Bradford firm has been ordered to pay £140,000 in fines and costs after admitting safety failures that led to the death of a 61 year-old worker who was crushed beneath an unsecured racking system.

Jim Murphy died from head injuries when the 'A' frame metal racking unit, weighing more than a quarter of a tonne, toppled over and pinned him underneath. As he fell his head hit part of another machine just feet away. The overloaded unit had not been bolted or secured in place.

Mr Murphy, of School Green Avenue, Thornton, had worked for refrigeration company George Barker & Co. (Leeds) Ltd. for nine years.

The incident at the firm's factory in Highfield Road, Idle, on 1 December 2009, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which uncovered a 'catalogue of errors'.

On 6 September, Bradford Crown Court was told that Mr Murphy had been asked to help dismantle the stacking system so that the area in the premises could be reorganised. He was kneeling on the floor in an aisle removing labels from various parts when the unit next to him toppled. Mr Murphy's head hit a raised part of another machine nearby.

The court heard the racking was not bolted to the floor and other employees had started to use it to shelve components, making it increasingly unstable. HSE found there was no system at the company to safely move or inspect the racking, no indication of its maximum load and no training given to employees.

George Barker & Co (Leeds) Ltd. was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company had admitted the offence at an earlier hearing.


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