On 29 January 2014, father-of-three Paul Williamson, 51 years of age, died when a remote controlled Mobile Elevated Working Platform (MEWP) he was loading onto a truck fell from the ramps and crushed him. The gradient of the ramps exceeded the manufacturer’s specification and they were not secured to the lorry. As the MEWP was loaded onto the truck it toppled off the ramps on to Mr Williamson.
Mr Williamson had not been adequately trained on the use of the ramps, the lorry and the MEWP. There was no risk assessment in place and no safe system of work had been created for the equipment, which had only been in operation for eight days.
Company director Kenneth Thelwall, Enfield, was charged under s37 of the HSWA 1974 and sentenced to 12-months in prison and ordered to pay costs of £4,000. He was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years.
The employer company, Thorn Warehousing Ltd, was charged under s2 of the HSWA 1974, fined £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs. The company is currently in administration.
In 2010, another employee, Bernard Rowson, was crushed to death by a metal gate at an industrial estate in Winsford, Cheshire, owned and operated by Mr Thelwall’s company, Thelwall Developments. Mr Thelwall had designed the gate system, but it jammed in the wrong position and fell forward, killing Mr Rowson.
In March 2012 Mr Thelwall was acquitted of a corporate manslaughter charge in a two-week jury trial at Chester Crown Court. However, he admitted separate safety charges, including failing to ensure the safety of the site.
At the hearing concerning Mr Williamson’s death, Judge Leeming commented: “Two men have now tragically died in the workplace at a time when you were the sole director of the company. You have shown your intention to never again be a director of a company, but you may change your mind so I disqualify you from being a director of a company for seven years”.