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Whirlpool UK fatality leads to £70,000 fine

A company at the centre of one of the UK’s biggest product safety scandals in recent years has been fined £70,000 after a man died in a workplace incident.

Whirlpool UK Appliances Ltd was handed down a substantial fine and costs following the death of one of its contractors after falling from a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP).

The incident occurred on the 21st March 2015, when the contractor had been installing revised fire detection equipment using the MEWP at a height of over five metres on the site of the former Indesit factory in Yate, Bristol.

Unaware that the contractor was nearby, Whirlpool UK maintenance workers started an overhead conveyer, with the resulting movement causing the MEWP to tip over, knocking the 66-year old man from the platform to the floor below, causing serious injuries from which he later died.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that there was no process in place to inform workers that conflicting tasks were being carried out.

Bristol Crown Court fined Whirlpool UK Appliances £70,000 with costs of £11,466 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974.

The act places general duties on employers and the self-employed to conduct their undertakings in such a way to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than themselves or their employees are not exposed to risks to their health or safety.

Speaking after the hearing, 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.”