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Badly stacked boards crush joinery worker

27 Jun 14 An Essex joinery firm has been fined for safety failings after an employee was crushed by half a tonne of fibreboard (MDF) at its premises in Basildon.

The 50-year-old man suffered two collapsed lungs, a broken collar bone, five broken ribs and a gash to his head from the incident on 26th September 2013. He was hospitalised for two weeks and returned to work on light duties in January 2014.

Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd was yesterday (26th June) prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after it found safety shortcomings.

Basildon magistrates heard that the employee was working in the joinery shop of the factory, selecting MDF boards to be cut down to size. The boards were stored vertically and leant against racking. He had removed three boards, but as he removed the fourth, a suction effect caused a further 15 of the 30kg boards to topple over on top of him, knocking him over. As he fell he gashed his head on a stack of timber, and was then pinned to the concrete floor under the weight of the boards for several minutes before being freed.

HSE said the boards should have been secured and racked.

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Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd of Bowlers Court, Honywood Road, Basildon, Essex, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £598 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Kim Tichias said: “The risks from falling timber and board material in the wood-working industry are well-known. There have been a number of incidents in recent years, including fatalities, where poorly-stored and unsecured boards have fallen on workers.

“Specialist Joinery Projects should have ensured boarding was secure and that there was a safe process for using and handling boarding for employees to follow. Simple and relatively inexpensive control measures, such as racking, would have prevented this incident and the serious injuries incurred by this worker.”

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