£50K Fine for Death of a Much Loved Granddad

In May 2010 a normal day ended in tragedy when a grandfather was tragically killed at Dry Dock located at the Bridgewater Canal. Richard Ferris, a canal boat owner, slipped over on a plank which caused critical injuries to his head that proved to be fatal. When Mr Ferris fell he landed on a concrete floor head first and was pronounced dead the same day in hospital. The case was heard at Manchester Crown Court on September 21.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated Worsley Dry Docks Ltd as they were the owner of the site where the accident occurred. They discovered that a board had been used as a walkway leading from the dock to the boat owned by Mr Ferris.  The board had not been made secure and this led to the tragic incident.

61 year old Mr Ferris had been out with his wife on their canal boat on the day of the accident.  They had decided to take the boat to the dry dock in order to perform some maintenance. The work couldn’t be carried out on the boat without the use of the dry dock as the area that required the work was underneath the boat.  As Mr Ferris tried to climb aboard his boat using the plank it began to move beneath him. The movement caused him to lose his balance and fall almost two and a half meters to the dry dock floor beneath him.

Inadequate Access System Cost a Life

The Investigation showed that Worsley Dry Docks had not done all they could to protect users at the dry dock from harm.  The access system used to get on and off the boats at the dry dock was not adequate. The firm was fined £50,000 after they pleaded guilty for breaching a section of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company also must pay the prosecution costs of £15,185.

This is a horrific reminder that firms have a duty to ensure the safety of others. Mr Ferris has left behind his loving wife, four children and nine grandchildren. He was an experienced boats man and his family have been left devastated by his loss. Since the accident Worsley Dry Docks have made changes to the access system so it is hoped that there will not be a repeat of this accident. All of the planks are now safely secured and hand rails have been installed. The company also checks that they are safe before they are used.

Make the Changes Now Before It’s Too Late

It is important to conduct regular health and safety audits and reviews of risk assessments in order to reduce the risks at work.  Don’t wait for someone to be injured or lose their life before you take the necessary steps required by law.  Use health and safety consultants to put in place systems designed to reduce the risks.

To discuss the multiple health and safety services available speak to Veritas Consulting on 0800 1488 677.

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