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Fatal MEWP crushing lands company director in jail

A company director has been jailed after one of his workers was crushed to death when a work platform fell on him.

Fatal MEWP crushing lands company director in jail

Thorn Warehousing employee Paul Williamson, 51, died on 29 January 2014 when a remote controlled mobile elevated working platform (MEWP) he was loading on to a truck fell from the ramps.   

The gradient of the ramps was above the manufacturer’s specification and they were not secured to the lorry. As the MEWP – a Spider 1800 – was loaded on to the truck it toppled off them and on to Williamson. 

Manchester Crown Court was told how Williamson had not been adequately trained to use the ramps, the lorry or the MEWP. A risk assessment had not been carried out and no safe system of work drawn up for the equipment, which had been in operation for only eight days. 

Thorn Warehousing director Kenneth Thelwall was charged under s 37 of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act, which imposes liability on individuals if the breach has been committed by a body corporate. He was jailed for 12 months and ordered to pay £4,000 costs. He was also disqualified from being a company director for seven years. 

Thorn Warehousing, which was charged under s 2 of the HSW Act, was fined £166,000 and told to pay £10,400 costs. The company is currently in administration. 

Health and Safety Executive inspector Helen Jones said: “Kenneth Thelwall failed in his duty as a director to protect his workers. He was involved in the day-to-day running of Thorn Warehousing and should have ensured the company provided Paul Williamson with the right equipment and training to carry out his job.” 


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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