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Claims Count – Jim Tuhey

Published: 07/12/2017

Claims Count – Jim Tuhey, "Could have been prevented"

News from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) tells us that in September a Hull based cake manufacturing company was fined £1million following the death of a self-employed electrical contractor who died as a result of falling from a ladder whilst working there.

Hull Crown Court heard how the self-employed electrician, Mr David Shanks, 55, was contracted to complete electrical work at Greencore Grocery Ltd site in Hull. In October 2013, Mr Shanks was wiring a motor situated above a machine whilst standing on a stepladder. The company agreed this work activity could be completed using a stepladder that it had provided. Unfortunately Mr Shanks fell at height and suffered fatal injuries.

An investigation by the HSE found that Greencore failed to properly plan this workplace activity from the outset, including access arrangements to be made for motor installation.

Greencore Grocery Ltd of Apex Park, Amsterdam Road, Sutton Fields Industrial Estate Hull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

In addition to the £1million fine, the company was ordered to pay costs of £30,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work related fatalities in Great Britain, the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“Work at height regulations require that all work at height is properly planned and appropriate access is provided. If Greencore had carried this out this death could have been prevented.

Greencore said it was "deeply saddened" by the death and had taken measures to prevent further accidents taking place.

In a statement, the firm said: "Everyone at Greencore was deeply saddened by the tragic accident that led to the loss of Mr Shanks' life in October 2013 and the company wishes to extend its sincere condolences to the family of Mr Shanks.

"The health and wellbeing of our staff and contractors is of paramount importance to Greencore and we have worked closely with the Health & Safety Executive since the accident occurred to ensure every measure is in place to prevent anything of this kind happening again in future."

Jim says:

As you can see from this case the company had agreed to the method of working and thus left themselves liable. We would recommend that when engaging any third party to carry out works at your premises or on your behalf that you:

  • Check, including the compilation of written documentation, the competence of any individual or contractor.
  • Insist, again with supporting documentation, that all work is carried out in accordance with current health and safety requirements and best working practices.
  • Make sure that you are provided with a copy of the Risk Assessments and Method Statements for your records, and with confirmation that they have been compiled by a qualified and competent person.

When entering into negotiations over the cost of a quotation never 'value engineer' a reduction by cutting back on any costs associated with health and safety provisions and proper working practices.

And if you have any concerns or doubts seek your own professional advice, not only will it guard against terrible accidents such as this one, it will be a lot cheaper than a £1million fine plus costs. 

As insurance brokers we also understand that human error and accidents occur in the most well run places and insurance is there to protect us when things unwittingly go wrong.

Flint has recently had to ensure that one of our clients has been well represented by insurers and their legal team in defending a public liability claim, including defending and mitigating action taken by the HSE – our role is always to support our clients as much as we possibly can. 

Remember – insurers will never pay a fine imposed by the HSE, however first class legal representation can greatly reduce the outlay in terms of costs, as well as the stress that undoubtedly accompanies such incidences. 


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