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£60k fines for access platform fatality

2 Dec 11 Amey and Mouchel Parkman have been fined a total of £60,000 following the death of a worker who fell from a cherry picker on a dual carriageway in Liverpool.

It has taken more than five years for justice to be done – the accident happened on 20 August 2006.

The contractors had hired a van-mounted Versalift VST4000 aerial work platform but took no steps to check that it was fit for purpose.

The 10-year-old machine was hired from Highland Access, which has since gone out of business.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Amey Infrastructure Services Ltd and Mouchel Parkman Services Ltd following the incident on the A5036 Princess Way in Seaforth on 20 August 2006.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Peter Cole, from Lymm in Cheshire, had been replacing the lights on the central reservation when the cherry picker’s lifting arm collapsed.

The 61-year-old, who was married with three children and three grandchildren, fell nearly eight metres and landed on the back of the vehicle. He died from his injuries in hospital later that day.

The court was told Mr Cole was employed by Amey Infrastructure Services Ltd, part of the Amey Mouchel joint venture with Mouchel Parkman Services Ltd.

The HSE investigation found neither company had adequate systems for checking and maintaining the cherry picker, both when it was first delivered or throughout the hire period.

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The cherry picker needed to be repaired on several occasions while it was on hire to the companies, and had been subjected to heavy use in all weather conditions for almost a decade.

HSE inspector Dave Guyers said:

“Both companies had a legal duty to ensure Mr Cole remained safe but their checking and maintenance systems were inadequate and thus allowed him to use a cherry picker that was in a poor condition.

“Heavy usage and a regular repair record demand that checking and maintenance procedures are carried out thoroughly. This is vital with cherry pickers which place users at great risk when working at height.

“All companies must have effective checking and maintenance systems in place and act upon the findings from them. Ageing machinery should be maintained properly and responsibly – not doing so increases the likelihood of this sort of incident.”

Amey Infrastructure pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company, of Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £32,500 in prosecution costs on 1 December.

Mouchel Parkman, also of Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the same act for failing to ensure Mr Cole’s safety. The company was fined £30,000 with costs of £32,500.

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