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Company fined after man's death
7:50am Sunday 15th July 2012 in Chelmsford News
A FIRM has been fined for safety failings after a worker was crushed to death by stone slabs weighing three tonnes.
The Stone Company UK Ltd, based in Sanford Mill Lane, Great Baddow, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at Chelmsford Crown Court.
The granite manufacturer was where Martin Rice, of Kirkmans Road, Galleywood, worked and where he died on April 28, 2009.
Mr Rice, 57, was unloading a delivery of manufactured stone and placing it on storage A-frames in a warehouse when the incident occurred.
As he lowered a bundle of 11 slabs, weighing about three tonnes, the bundle fell and crushed him against the wall of the building.
The father-of-four died at the scene.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard on July 3 that workplace regulator the Health and Safety Executive investigated the death and found the Stone Company had operated an unsafe system of work for handling and storing stone slabs.
The A-frames in use were poorly sited and as such were inappropriate within the confines of the warehouse.
The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000.
After the hearing, Richard Rajham, HSE inspector, said: “A family have had their lives devastated by this tragic incident.
“The system of work for handling slabs of stone was dangerous, and Martin’s death could have been avoided with some simple modifications to the layout of the storage area and to the storage equipment being used.
“It is vital that work of this nature is carefully planned and monitored, and employee safety is of paramount importance at all times.”
In February 2010, following Mr Rice’s death and other similar incidents, the HSE issued a safety alert to firms about the handling and storage of large sheet stone slabs.