Health and Safety News

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Firms sentenced after factory worker finds brother dead

Two companies have been ordered to pay more than £450,000 in fines and costs for serious breaches of safety after a Stockport factory worker found his brother lying dead in the bed of a machine.

The machine that caused Brians deathThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Unisign and WFEL Ltd. after Brian Miller suffered fatal head injuries at the WFEL plant on Crossley Road in Heaton Chapel on 12 January 2008.

Manchester Crown Court, Minshull Street, heard the 38-year-old father-of-two from Denton had been working on a large machine used to manufacture bridges for the military.

An HSE investigation found Mr Miller had been leaning over a part of the machine to try and fix a fault with one of the switches when a large hydraulic ram descended on him. He was discovered by his brother, Robert, who also worked at the factory.

Netherlands-based firm Unisign Produktie Automatisering BV, which designed and manufactured the machine, was found to have supplied a machine which did not comply with European safety standards, as access should not have been possible when the machine was running at full speed.

The company, of Panningen in the southern part of the Netherlands, was fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £28,313.

WFEL Ltd. was prosecuted after it failed to ensure a safe system was in place for workers using the machine. The company was fined £200,000 with costs of £28,074 after admitting a breach of the same Act.


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