A warehouse automation firm has been prosecuted after a worker was fatally electrocuted.
Andrew Meade – an engineer for 30 years – was working on a faulty electrical air compressor, which had not been serviced for over a decade, when the incident happened on 8 December 2017. He was not found for more than an hour.
Maidstone Magistrates’ Court was told the machine had not been tested since it was installed in 2006, and had been modified a number of times over 11 years.
The servicing was part of the routine quarterly testing for contracting firm Logistex at sanitary paper products manufacturer Kimberley Clark’s distribution centre in Gravesend, Kent.
'Had the company identified the correct isolation point for the compressor and ensured that employees were sufficiently trained and supervised in the lock-off procedures expected of them, then this fatal incident would not have occurred'
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the control measures in place to prevent contact with electricity during maintenance activities were not suitable or sufficient. The electrical systems had not been tested or visually inspected since installation, and an incorrect isolating switch had not been identified.
Northamptonshire-based Logistex pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £23,358.
'Poorly maintained electrical installations and faulty electrical appliances can kill or severely injure people; and cause damage to property,' said HSE inspector Joanne Williams after the hearing.
'This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to implement safe systems of work and identify the risks. Had the company identified the correct isolation point for the compressor and ensured that employees were sufficiently trained and supervised in the lock-off procedures expected of them, then this fatal incident would not have occurred.'