Wakefield firm fined £66,000 after man’s crush death

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A WAKEFIELD ink manufacturing firm has been fined £66.000 after a worker suffered fatal crush injuries when a one tonne silo of varnish toppled on to him.

Leeds Crown Court heard Wayne Potts, 35, died in March 2011 after the silo slid from the tines of a fork lift truck at Gardiner Colours Ltd’s factory in Ripley Drive at Normanton.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company, which makes inks, varnishes and coatings, after an investigation highlighted a string of safety failings.

Mr Potts had been decanting varnish from a tap at the base of the silo – which had been raised on the tines of the fork lift truck – into 10kg plastic containers.

As Mr Potts worked on the decanting, the silo slid down the tines and fell directly onto him.

HSE found a combination of the creeping heavy load, the downward tilt of the forks, and the valve being used frequently from below, had caused the silo to fall.

The court heard the practice of using a fork lift truck to raise silos for decanting had been used a number of times before at the firm.

Prosecutor, James McKeon, said employees Stephen Beecher and Michael Jackson reported a silo falling from the tines of a fork lift truck in January of February 2011.

No-one was injured in that incident, which was reported to the company’s management.

The company, of Ripley Drive, Normanton, near Wakefield, was fined £66,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Gardiner Colours managing director Ray Gardiner was in court for the hearing. Mitigating, Peter Smith, said: “Mr Gardiner as an individual and on behalf of the company, wishes to genuinely express his and the company’s remorse and sorrow. Mr Potts was a valued employee and well thought of.” The court heard health and safety procedures at the company have since been overhauled.