Plank wobbled causing man to fall two and a half metres to concrete below…
A firm in Salford has been fined £50,000 after the death of an owner of a canal boat at a dry dock on the Bridgwater Canal.
The accident victim sustained fatal injuries as a result of slipping on a plank and falling headfirst onto the concrete floor below on 26 May 2010. He died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the fall in hospital later that same day.
The Salford firm that owned the site was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after their investigation into the accident discovered that the wooden board leading to the accident victim’s boat had not been secured.
Manchester Crown Court was told that the 61-year-old man and his wife had docked the boat at the canal in order to carry out some repairs. The accident victim was in the process of crossing from his boat to one side of the dock but as he stepped onto the plank it began to wobble and he lost his balance falling almost two and a half metres to the concrete floor of the dry dock below.
The emergency services were contacted and arrived at the scene and transported the man to the local hospital but the head injuries he sustained in the fall proved to be fatal.
The subsequent HSE investigation determined that the dock owner had failed in its duty to provide safe and secure access to use of the dry dock so that boat owners could move safely from their boats. Since the accident the company has taken measures to ensure that all planks at the dry dock are secure.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £15,185 in prosecution costs.
Philip Strickland, the HSE Inspector Howard who investigated the case spoke after the hearing:
“The victim was experienced in boating and from time to time had piloted pleasure cruisers along the Manchester Ship Canal.
“But when he and his wife took their canal boat to the dry dock to carry out maintenance work, they relied on the owner of the dock to make sure they could do this safely.
“Having an unsecured board was a wholly inadequate way of accessing boats at the dry dock, given boat owners regularly used it to walk above a concrete pit several metres below.
“If a secured gangplank with a handrail had been in place at the time Mr Ferris was using the dock then his life could have been saved.”
The latest HSE figures show that 38 people died as a result of a fall in a workplace in Great Britain in 2010/11, and more than 4,000 suffered a major injury.
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