7 September 2016

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reminded those in charge of companies that they are personally responsible for protecting the health and safety of their workers.

Commenting on the case of Paul Williamson, who was crushed by a Mobile Elevated Working Platform (MEWP), the HSE said that the case “should act as a stark warning to all company directors”.

Mr Williamson, who was 51 years old, died in January 2014 when a remote controlled MEWP he was loading on to a truck fell from the ramps and crushed him. Manchester Crown Court was told that Mr Williamson had not received adequate training on the use of the ramps, the lorry or the MEWP.

The company for which he worked — Thorn Warehousing Ltd — did not have a risk assessment in place and no safe system of work had been created for the equipment.

Furthermore, the gradient of the ramps was greater than that specified by the manufacturer, and they were not secured to the lorry. As the MEWP was loaded onto the truck it toppled off the ramps on to Mr Williamson.

Thorn Warehousing Ltd was charged under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company — which is currently in administration — was fined £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs.

Company director Kenneth Thelwall was charged under section 37 of the Act. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison, disqualified from being a company director for seven years, and ordered to pay costs of £4000.

HSE Inspector Helen Jones said that Mr Thelwall had failed in his duty as a director to protect his workers. It was up to him to ensure that the company provided Mr Williamson with the right equipment and training to carry out his job.