23 May 2013
BAE Systems could be open to legal action following worker death
Global defence company BAE systems could be liable to the family of a man who died while working for the firm.
Gary Whiting, a 51-year-old maintenance engineer at the defence giant was conducting the regular routine servicing of a large metal press when the accident happened.
The machine, which is around the size of a two-bedroom house, had to be checked thoroughly for any faults, so the team of four, which Mr Whiting was working in, split into two sub-groups and worked separately out of each other's view.
Mr Whiting entered the machine to remove a piece of equipment he had been using but, at the same time, one of the members of the other maintenance sub-group started a full test cycle of the press frame.
The 145-tonne metal press crushed and trapped Mr Whiting, who died the same day of his injuries at a local hospital.
An investigation was immediately launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who found that an absence of suitable risk assessments, as well as a lack of measures to prevent entry to dangerous parts of the press, had contributed to the 51-year-old's death.
BAE systems were fined £250,000 and ordered to pay £97,153 after it pleaded guilty to Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
A statement released by Jackie Whiting, the man's widow, said the absence of a safe system of work for the employee "beggared belief".
HSE inspector Mark Welsh said: "The dangers of maintenance work on these types of machines are well-known yet BAE Systems failed to identify those risks and its serious failings led to this tragedy.
"Although the press machine had been serviced regularly, it was done in the same unacceptable way and it is surprising there had not been an earlier incident."
In 2011-12 there were 31 deaths and more than 3,400 major injuries recorded in the manufacturing industry. Many of these accidents could have been prevented with proper adherence to health and safety guidelines.
Contact our accident and injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like advice on any personal injury matter
Posted by Francesca Witney