Worksop firm fined £2 million after death of Bolsover man

Two companies were fined 3.8 million at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday.
Two companies were fined 3.8 million at Nottingham Crown Court yesterday.

The devastated mum of a Bolsover man crushed to death at work in a Worksop factory has said it was "an accident waiting to happen".

Two companies have now been fined £3.8 million for health and safety failings after the death of Richard Reddish when he was crushed by an 11-ton concrete panel on July 8, 2014.

The 29-year-old's devastated father, David Reddish, who worked at the same factory, was on the scene within a minute to try and help him, but Richard sadly died.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, and prosecuted two businesses.

Yesterday (Monday) at Nottingham Crown Court, Explore Manufacturing Limited, of Explore Industrial Estate, Explore Way, Steetley, Worksop, was fined £2 million and country-wide firm Select Plant Hire, which supplied Explore with equipment, was fined £1.8m.

Both companies were ordered to pay costs between them of more than £27,000.

Afterwards, Mr Reddish's mum, Caroline, said: "It is not really about the fines, although I think the judge has taken into account all of the failings and given out what he thinks are appropriate fines in the circumstances.

"As family we do not want another family to go through what we have been through. It was an accident waiting to happen. My husband worked there.

"It was said in court concerns had been raised about certain areas of the business in the past. Richard did not want to be working alone and he had raised this with someone on the shop floor.

"On a lighter note we are also really grateful to HSE and the legal term for their brilliant work on this case."

The two companies are wholly-owned subsidiaries of international engineering enterprise Laing O'Rourke.

Mr Reddish was employed by Explore Manufacturing Limited.

A married father with a young son, Charlie, the 29-year-old was working in the finishing area at the factory when he died after 1am on July 8, 2014.

Prosecutor Alexander Stein told the court one of the pins for a H-shaped frame locking it in position was not in place and the panel became unstable and toppled onto a working platform where Mr Reddish was.

He was thrown onto freestanding panels, then hit a further panel and fell onto the ground.

Mr Stein said: "He was crushed by the falling panel and, very sadly, he was killed instantly."

Mrs Reddish said there was a domino effect.

"There were three panels stood up. Richard was thrown over them from the platform. He cleared them. But a large 11-ton wall of concrete (a panel) then tipped over, causing a domino effect to the three panels. He hit his head on the back of one. He got all three tipped on him."

Explore Manufacturing Limited pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, the safety and welfare at work of employees, including Mr Reddish.

Judge Timothy Spencer QC, who heard all the evidence, said Mr Reddish had his life cut tragically short.

"His death was tragic and wholly unnecessary, and was caused by the failures of the two defendants who failed to provide him with a safe place or system of work," he said.

At the time of the tragedy the business was in a period of considerable production pressure, he said.

"There were more panels than the factory could cope with. This led to freestanding panels on wooden bearers on the factory floor," he said. "That was not causative of the death. It is symptomatic in the way the business, particularly Explore Manufacturing Limited, was operating at that time."

He said there should have been stabilisers fixed to the H-frames and secured to the pallet by pins.

The judge said: "It is those pins or lack of pins which is at the heart of this case. It is plain there was no system in place for adequately checking those pins."

Some wooden bearers used to hold the panels became damaged, so wooden blocks were used - leading to a situation where the base of the panel was not on any level surface.

Judge Spencer ordered Select Plant Hire to pay a fine of £1.8m. A guilty plea to a health and safety charge was previously entered.

Mitigating on behalf of the companies, Stephen Walsh said Select Plant Hire provided panels to the company. Explore Manufacturing did not have the panels on a maintenance schedule and "those issues are now very much addressed", he said.

Speaking after the hearing, Stuart Pilkington, HSE inspector, said: "This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man. His death could easily have been prevented, if the companies had acted following previous warnings to identify and manage the risks involved, maintain the equipment, and put a safe system of work in place."

Laing O’Rourke's health and safety director John Green said: "The company would like to express its profound regret and sorrow to the family and friends of Richard Reddish, who tragically died at work in July 2014, and our thoughts remain with them.

"Having entered a guilty plea and accepted responsibility from the outset, we respect the court’s decision.

"No incident such as this should ever occur. We have learnt significant lessons and implemented changes to our operations to continually improve the safety of our working environment.”

* A version of this story first appeared in the Nottingham Post.