Haulage company fined over death of worker

Have your say

A HAULAGE company has been fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 costs over the death of a worker who was crushed when five tonnes of steel coils “collapsed like dominos”.

Alan Burr, 52, died while trying to repair torn packaging on a roll of coil at a warehouse run by ABC (Grimsby) Ltd at Henderson Quay, Immingham Docks, on January 27, 2010.

Grimsby Crown Court heard Mr Burr, from East Halton, Immingham, a forklift driver and warehouseman, was standing between two of the rolls when one toppled over, causing a domino effect on the stack. He was trapped and pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found he had been stacking the rolls in batches of four, which was common practice among staff. No-one from the company had told them not to.

Inspector Denise Fotheringham said: “This was a shocking tragedy and has been devastating for Mr Burr’s wife and family. Mr Burr had worked for ABC for more than 20 years; he was simply trying to do a good job and repair a tear in the polythene wrapping but it had these dreadful consequences.

“Narrow banded coils can be unstable when stored on roll end as they can collapse in a domino effect and that, very sadly, is exactly what happened. ABC had been storing this type of steel coil since April 2009 but had given no training to employees about how to handle and store them safely.

“This loss of life could have been avoided if sufficient instruction, training and the provision of inexpensive coil racks – which work on the same simple principle as a toast rack – had been provided by the company.”

Mr Burr’s wife of 24 years, Mandy, described her loss in a statement: “To have someone knock on your door and tell you that the man you love with all your heart will not be coming home again, and then watch your daughter collapse on the floor as she heard the news, is a feeling very hard to describe. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it’s like having your heart squeezed so tightly, you cannot breathe properly.”

The firm, of Lancaster Approach, North Killingholme, Immingham, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.