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A Runcorn-based boat manufacturer has been landed in court after an employee was injured in an accident at work.
Pyranha Mouldings was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an incident at its factory on the Whitehouse Industrial Estate on March 2nd 2011.
Chester Crown Court heard that a 49-year-old man, who asked not to be named, was lying on top of a stack of kayaks so he could finish pulling remaining vessels into a container.
As he attempted to ascend from the unit into a cage so he could be lowered to the ground by a forklift truck, the operator accidentally raised the prongs and the worker was crushed against the roof of the shipping facility. He suffered a torn ear, three chipped teeth and was left with nerve pain.
Jurors at the court heard this method of loading had been used by Pyranha for a number of years, despite repeated requests by employees that a ramp be built to make it easier to load boats into their containers.
A HSE investigation found Pyranha did not carry out a proper risk assessment and failed to provide employees with suitable training - on top of using an unsafe system of work.
Pyranha Mouldings was fined £50,000 and told to pay £6,562 in prosecution costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Commenting after the trial, HSE inspector Adam McMahon said: "The company should never have used a cage to lift workers down from containers, but it allowed this practice to happen over several years.
"The employee could easily have been killed when he was crushed against the top of the container. If a ramp had been available at the time of the incident then the employee's injuries could have been avoided."
Forklift trucks are incredibly useful resources for British manufacturers but are often mis-used as makeshift elevators, which goes against HSE advice and could result in an injury or death.
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