Firm’s £146k fine for safety failures which led to the death of a worker

A family-run business has been given a hefty fine after health and safety failures led to an accident at work in which one of its employees died later in hospital.

James Dunkerley Steels, of Higginshaw, was fined £146,500, after pleading guilty at Tameside Magistrates’ Court for  welfare, health & safety failures of an employee during an unsafe and unplanned lift of steel beams.

The court heard how an investigation had been launched after 35-year-old Wayne Mallinson died during an operation following the accident at the Shaw Road steel works in July, 2015.

Mr Mallinson’s arm was cut deeply while unloading steel beams from the back of a truck on the morning of July 6, 2015. One fell and trapped Mr Mallinson’s arm before colleagues lifted it off. The injury Mr Mallinson sustained did not result in any fractures, but a layer of skin had come off.

Mr Mallinson, from Mirfield, West Yorkshire, was taken to the Royal Oldham Hospital. While there, his work colleagues were at his bedside and expected him to make a full recovery.

When he went for a routine operation in the afternoon, however, he suffered heart problems and died while being anaesthetised.

The incident was passed to the coroner, who opened an inquest. It was then passed to Greater Manchester Police’s major incident team and the Health and Safety Executive.

The court heard how the unloading of the steel beams from the flat pack, from Tata Steel, was a three-man operation. Mr Mallinson was working as a slinger/signaller and had been at the company for 14 years after serving in the Army. As it was a three-man operation two other employees ­- James Dunkerley and Simon Bland ­- were also assisting in the unloading.

Mr Bland used a telehandler ­- similar to a forklift ­- to lift the steel beams but both he and Mr Dunkerley were unaware that Mr Mallinson was on the back of the wagon. They presumed he was a safe distance away. Two steel beams fell on Mr Mallinson, who was attaching chain slings to steel bundles ready for unloading.

On September 18, an improvements notice was served by Oldham Council to the company, followed by a visit by the police, the council and the Health and Safety Executive on September 29.

It was also found that Mr Bland had not received formal slinger training. The use of the telehandler was deemed unsuitable for the unloading of the beams.

The company has since spent about £11,000 in order to comply with the improvement notice in order to address their health & safety failures.

There were record of accidents in 2004, 2005 and 2015 but no previous convictions in relation to health and safety matters.

Prosecuting, Ruth Crimmins, said: “This was not properly planned. It is accepted by the police that the injuries were unlikely to have made a significant, direct contribution to Mr Mallinson’s death. Nonetheless, it was related and an investigation took place.

“The company co-operated fully. There were a number of issues. There were risk assessments in place but they were not being followed at the time.

“There were no risk assessments for taking non-routine lifts in place. The employees had not received adequate training. They were simply shown by other employees on site. Since the accident, the company has arranged for staff to attend training courses for unplanned routine lifts which are inherently unsafe.”
Sentencing the company, district judge Nicholas Sandler said he gave full credit to the company for the guilty plea and while he accepted their clean record he said it was an accident waiting to happen, due to the inadequate risk assessments.

As well as a fine of £146,500, James Dunkerley Steels was ordered to pay costs of £11,600 and a victim surcharge of £120.”