63 year old, William Price, was converting a curtain-sided trailer into a flat bed when the frame he was removing fell. Mr Price suffered injuries to his head and died. Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that ATE Truck and Trailer Sales had commissioned the scrap metal dealer to remove the excess frame. It was while Mr Price cut the roof off that the 500 kg structure collapsed.
The firm defended the allegation that there had never been any risk assessment of such activities. They pointed out that in the past the operation had been successfully carried out using two workers and a sling. The judge felt that not formally conducting a risk assessment was a sufficient breach in order to convict. The firm was fined £475,000, plus £20,000 costs and this was in addition to the £100,000 price tag of their defence.
Judge Barry Berlin, said: ‘The requirement of a risk assessment in circumstances like these is not just good practice but a fundamental and mandatory legal requirement. This was a plainly hazardous activity.’
The lack of a formal risk assessment is a factor that runs through so many of these cases. It is almost as if there is a degree of belief that self employed people are not subject to the risk assessments of the employing firm. I am not saying who was at fault, the court case was specific to the incident. I am saying that while self employed people are on site they must be aware of any risk assessment the employing firm has undertaken. If there isn’t a written assessment they shouldn’t commence the work.