24 April 2013
Family of crushed farmer 'could launch legal action
The family of a man who was crushed to death by a poorly fitted barn door could launch legal action against the men whose dangerous work killed the farmer.
Robert Ireland, 71, died from multiple, severe injuries when a badly installed half-tonne roller collapsed and crushed him on his North Yorkshire farm in 2010.
Mr Ireland was working on his farm near Malton when he opened the door to his barn. The heavy roller shutter door system, which had been installed a few months, earlier fell off its "flimsy" mountings - crushing the farmer.
The short amount of time that the door had been in place for meant that normal, expected wear and tear would not be an acceptable excuse for the roller falling apart and killing the man.
A court heard that David Whittaker, who had 18 years of experience, fitted the door with the assistance of a trainee in July 2010, just months before October of the same year when the door fell.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the door failed because there was a mismatch in the length of the door's barrel and the distance between wall mounted brackets - something that was compounded by cheap, poorly made brackets.
Mr Whittaker was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.
His boss, the owner of the now defunct Easydoor business, Paul Halliwell, also received a 200-hour community service sentence and a £2,000 cost order.
HSE inspector Geoff Fletcher said: "This type of incident, where the entire shutter door has fallen because the door was not securely fastened to its mountings, has occurred before and resulted in serious injuries. Installers should have the appropriate design and installation considerations to prevent it happening."
"There are several relatively simple methods that could have been used to prevent this door from coming loose from its mountings" he remarked.
The HSE is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety.
Posted by Francesca Witney
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