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Salford firm sentenced over canal boat death

Richard Ferriss canal boat at Worsley Dry DocksA Salford firm has been fined £50,000 over the death of a canal boat owner at a dry dock on the Bridgewater Canal.

Richard Ferris - a father of four and grandfather of nine - suffered critical injuries after he slipped on a plank and fell head first to the concrete floor below at The Boatyard in Worsley on 26 May 2010. He died in hospital later that day.

The owner of the site, Worsley Dry Docks Ltd., was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the wooden board leading to his boat had not been secured.

On 21 September, Manchester Crown Court heard that the 61-year-old and his wife had taken their narrow boat to the dry dock to carry out maintenance work to the underneath while it was out of the water.

Mr Ferris was attempting to cross from his boat to the side of the dock and as he stepped onto the plank, known as a youngmans board, it began to move. He lost his balance and fell nearly two and a half metres to the floor of the dry dock.

The emergency services were called to the scene but he had suffered major head injuries and died as a result.

A HSE investigation found Worsley Dry Docks had failed to provide suitable access to users of the dry docks to allow them to move safely to and from their boats. The company has since ensured all of the planks at the dry dock have hand rails, and that they are properly secured before being used.

Worsley Dry Docks Ltd. pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 after it failed to ensure Mr Ferris's safety. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £15,185 in prosecution costs.


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