Electrical appliance giant Whirlpool has been fined £700,000 after a contractor fell to his death when a mobile elevating work platform overturned at one of its factories.
Bristol Crown Court heard the 66-year-old was using the MEWP at a height of around five metres to install fire detection equipment at Whirlpool UK’s former Indesit electrical goods factory in Yate, Bristol, when the incident happened in March 2015. Unaware the contractor was working nearby, Whirlpool UK's maintenance workers started an overhead conveyor and the movement caused the MEWP to tip over. The contractor fell to the ground and died later from his injuries.
HSE’s investigation found there was no effective control or supervision in place to prevent the conflicting work tasks from being undertaken at the same time.
Whirlpool UK Appliances Limited pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £11,466, in addition to the £700,000 fine.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Matt Tyler said: “This is a tragic case where the incident could have been prevented if the company had planned and controlled the work properly.”
In a statement Whirlpool UK said: "First and foremost, we wish to reiterate our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr Dalley.
“The welfare of everyone working at Whirlpool is of the utmost importance to us and we are truly sorry that this tragic accident occurred.
“We have a very serious approach to safety compliance. Since then, we have thoroughly reviewed all our health and safety procedures at our production site in Yate to ensure that such an incident can never happen again.”
Whirlpool UK manufactures and sells domestic electrical appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, under brand names such as Hotpoint and Whirlpool. It is part of the Whirlpool Corporation, a US multinational that describes itself as the “number one major appliance manufacturer in the world”, reporting global sales of £21bn.
Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd posted revenues of £710m in 2015, though the company reported a loss of £165m as a result of planned expenditure to rectify potential fire safety faults in millions of tumble dryers found in UK homes.
In February 2017, the company warned owners of certain types of tumble dryers manufactured during 2004-2015 under the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brands to stop using the machines due to fire safety fears until Whirlpool engineers have completed a national programme of repairs. The tumble dryers have been linked to hundreds of fires in British homes, and Whirlpool says a potential fault means that "in some rare cases" excess fluff can come into contact with the dryers’ heating elements, posing a fire risk.
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