17 April 2013
Family may seek compensation after fatal accident
The family of a man who died in a fatal accident at work may decide to pursue compensation on his behalf.
Marcin Rogala passed away at the age of 29 when a tall stack of empty wooden pallets fell on top of him while he worked at premises owned by Ralph Coleman International in Nuneaton in November 2010.
At the time of this incident, Mr Rogala and a group of colleagues were gathering up pallets that had fallen from a pile in windy conditions at the storage and distribution firm's base.
As they carried out these duties, another stack of the storage devices - which weighed around 36kgs each - toppled over and, although his co-workers managed to get out of the way, Mr Rogala was struck by the materials and died later of multiple injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) subsequently investigated the accident and established that Mr Rogala and his colleagues had been asked to work in an unsafe environment.
It was found that the company had not implemented effective management control over operations in the pallet yard which, combined with high stock levels at the company, meant the stacks of pallets were too tall.
During a case heard at Warwick Crown Court, Ralph Coleman International pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was therefore fined £75,000 for its negligence and ordered to pay legal costs of £25,316.
As such, Mr Rogala's family could now opt to seek a civil compensation settlement from the organisation.
Roger Amery, inspector at the watchdog, said this tragic incident could have been prevented had the company "given proper and thoughtful attention to its pallet yard operation".
"Lots of firms form unsupported or free-standing stacks in their yards. I hope this death and the penalty imposed prompts them to check the condition and height of their stacks so that this doesn't happen again," he added.
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Posted by Chris Stevenson