Technical faults caused boom fatality
The inquest into the fatal crushing incident at a recycling centre in St Helens, UK in 2019 was held last week, shedding considerable light on what actually happened.
According to what was said at the inquest, Uldis Senkans, 30, was working from a Niftylift boom lift when he became trapped between the beam and the platform guardrails at the CEW Recycling Group site in St Helens - near Haydock/between Liverpool and Manchester - on Friday November 8th 2019. His colleagues found him that afternoon, they tried to bring him down, but struggled to do so. When they did reach him, they found him to be unresponsive. Senkans was pronounced dead shortly after the paramedics arrived. The original incident report can be found by clicking here.
The inquest was told that the HSE investigation into the incident found that the boom lift, dating from 2006 and owned by Senkans employer, steel erector and building company RM Gibbons, was poorly maintained with 15 serious faults logged, three of which might have caused or contributed directly to the incident.
The Health & Safety Executive inspector speaking at the inquest highlighted the three serious safety related issues as two separate control levers/joysticks that had lost the spring mechanism that automatically returns them to neutral when the operator releases them, and a badly damaged ‘dead-man’ foot switch.
The inspector said: "It is the opinion of a thorough examiner that these defects should be within category A, which poses a danger to people and should be rectified prior to the machine being placed back into operation. I agree that these defects are very severe, and they should have been rectified if the machine was going to be put into use."
The deceased had at least received proper operator training for the lift a couple of months prior to the incident.
The inquest was unable to determine exactly how the entrapment incident had occurred as there were no witnesses or CCCTV footage. As a result the jury issued a summary verdict after several hours of deliberation. The coroner Graham Jackson said: “On 8 November 2019, while working alone as a site worker, Mr Uldis Senkans sustained crush injuries to his chest which proved fatal. No medical or toxicological reason was determined for this incident.”
Is this not now a question of the Directors of the company who owned the machine to be charged with corporate manslaughter?
To allow the use of equipment to be in service with category "A" faults is wholly unacceptable.
There is a huge industry solely dedicated to the provision of safe, tested and fit-for-purpose equipment and also for the servicing, inspection and testing of third-party machinery, so there can be zero excuse for the sate of the machine, other than either corner cutting to save cost, or ignorance of the requirements of ownership. Both of which cannot be a defence in law.