Last reviewed 16 May 2022

In May 2018, an employee of Lancashire-based Graham Engineering was fatally injured when he was crushed by a 1000 tonne capacity press.

Colin Willoughby was lying on his back, underneath the raised middle section of the press, using a hand-held electric grinder to remove a weld from the base of a large metal piston. When the weld was removed, the internal ram fell through to the ground, crushing and killing him instantly.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the firm had failed to carry out a risk assessment and ensure a safe system of work on the press. The 20-tonne middle section was raised using fork lift trucks which exceeded their safe working load, in order to access the underside of the press.

Following a trial in front of a jury Graham Engineering Ltd of Whitehalls Industrial Estate, Nelson was found guilty of breaching s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974, was fined £500,000 and ordered to pays costs of £145,487.

The company’s manufacturing director was however acquitted of an associated charge under s.37 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974.

HSE principal inspector Steven Boyd said: “An unsafe system of work was adopted by Graham Engineering Ltd whilst undertaking hazardous work and the ensuing sequence of events led to the untimely death of Mr Willoughby”.