Steelwork contractor fined after fatal crushing

In May 2019, Steve Rooke, aged 55, was working in the workshop at Mifflin Construction Ltd in Leominster. The company manufactures and installs steel components for the construction industry.

Steve Rooke, who had worked at the company for more than 27 years, was using an overhead travelling crane to lift the middle of three beams to position it better on a trolley or ‘bogey’ which ran on rails in the workshop.  The beam he was lifting was 18 metres long and weighed 1,800 kg.  As it was lifted, it rotated in a sling, toppling sideways and trapping him against another beam causing fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mifflin Construction had failed to ensure a suitable and sufficient risk assessment was conducted by a competent person to identify well known industry standard control measures. Suitable and sufficient information, instruction, and training was not provided to employees about lifting operations at the site.  The company did not properly plan lifts and did not have a system for ensuring that there were adequately qualified supervisors present during lifting operations.

At Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on 4th March 2024, Mifflin Construction Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

HSE inspector Steve Richardson said after the hearing: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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