A firm from Wednesbury has been fined £150,000 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found it was guilty of safety failings that contributed to the death of one of its workers.
Ronald Meese had been an employee of Roberts Gordon Europe, which operates at a premises on Darlaston Road, Wednesbury, for more than three decades.
On July 27th 2011, he was working at the warehouse where he had been instructed to carry out a task that involved stacking a collection of large metal tubes in preparation for being distributed.
Mr Meese was using a forklift truck to transport the tubes across the warehouse floor before positioning them in stacks next to a 'Goods In' entrance.
Before loading a new set of tubes onto the forklift, the employee was required to set down a number of timber strips for the material to rest on. In order to acquire the timber he had to leave the cab of the truck for a short amount of time.
After having already unloaded several of the stacks, the employee left the driver's seat to lay more timber. However, as he did this, one of the stacks collapsed.
It was later estimated that the combined weight of the tubes was a tonne and although paramedics were quickly called to the warehouse, Mr Meese died at the scene.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that although the employee had been with the company for such a long period of time, managers had not given him or his colleagues the correct guidance before allowing them to undertake the task.
Further investigation also revealed that the timber used was not of the recommended size for supporting a load with such a weight.
HSE inspectors found Roberts Gordon Europe guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 and in addition to the fine, ordered it to pay prosecution costs totalling £33,000.
Inspector Carol Southerd explained, "This was a tragic and needless death that could have easily been avoided if there had been an assessment of the risks relating to unloading the tubes and adequate safety measures taken."