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Window and door manufacturer fined after worker killed

A firm specialising in the manufacture of wooden doors and windows has been fined for safety failings after a worker died at its Leyton premises.

Andrzej Rokita had been with M M Contracting Ltd for only ten days when he attempted to help his son, also an employee, to remove a large board from the middle of a pile stacked upright against a wall in the workshop.

The company's usual system for doing this was for one employee to stand in front of the stack, taking the weight of the unwanted boards on his hands, while a fellow worker pulled out the chosen one from the side. Unfortunately as Mr Rokita tried to support the weight of the leaning wooden panels they toppled over, crushing him and causing fatal head injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the company did not have a safe system of work for the storage or retrieval of boards. Storing the boards flat on the floor or using a simple purpose-built racking system would have greatly reduced the risk of injury.

After today's sentencing hearing at Southwark Crown Court, HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

"This was a death waiting to happen. Incidents such as this are still a common occurrence in the industry despite the existence of guidance from the HSE offering simple, inexpensive solutions for stacking wood safely.

"As a direct result of the company's failure to provide safe storage for their everyday materials, a father and husband has lost his life. There is no excuse for employers not ensuring that wood on their premises is properly stored, posing the most minimal risk to their staff."

The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay £9,000 in costs.

 

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