Company and director fined over death

News Story
- 28 Mar 2024 ( #1172 ) - Dudley, United Kingdom
2 min read
Graniteland Limited has been fined over an accident
Graniteland Limited has been fined over an accident

A company and its director have been sentenced following the death of an employee.

Robert Czachracz was crushed by two granite slabs while working for West Midlands firm Graniteland Limited on 30 November 2020.

The 46-year-old had been unpacking and moving the slabs onto storage racks, using an overhead crane, at the company’s Lyde Green site in Halesowen.

Two of the slabs, each weighing 250 kg, fell and crushed Czachracz against a forklift while he was operating the crane’s handheld pendant control.

He died at the scene despite desperate attempts from bystanders at nearby businesses and the emergency services to save him.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Graniteland Limited and its director, Shu Lai Li, failed to implement staff training or develop safe systems of work for the unloading, loading and handling of concrete slabs. There was no evidence that employees had received training in the safe operation of machinery, including the overhead crane. The overhead crane and forklift truck had also not been thoroughly examined, as required by law, and webbing slings, that could have been used during the unpacking process, were damaged.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined GBP18,000 (USD22,700) and ordered to pay GBP4,196.03 (USD5,250) in costs at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on 6 March 2024.

Shu Lai Li also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was ordered to complete 120 hours of unpaid work and pay GBP4,043.42 (USD5,100) in costs at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on 6 March 2024.

HSE inspector Mahesh Mahey says: “This was an entirely preventable accident. The risks of lifting and moving granite slabs were obvious, yet could have been controlled by relatively simple and inexpensive measures. The company and director failed to adequately control lifting operations which resulted in an employee needlessly and tragically losing his life.”

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