Transport Infrastructure Specialists

Engineering Company Fined For Fatality

The HSE has ordered Preston-based engineering company Assystem UK to pay more than £200,000 in compensation after an electrician working at one of its sites was crushed to death by a crane.

The ruling was enforced after Assystem was found guilty of being responsible for 51-year old Liam O’Neil’s death by not turning off the power to an overhead crane he was working on, allowing it to move and crush him in March 2011.

Mr O’Neil had been replacing a control cable on the crane and had climbed onto a platform to reach. He could not then get out of the way once the crane started moving. No barriers had been put on the platform when the crane was in use so workers were able to mount the platform while the crane was in use. No risk assessment had been carried out by Assystem to stop anyone on site using the platform.

In the ruling, which took place at Preston Crown Court, the company was fined £160,000 and £52,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty.

Assystem currently employs 330-people at its Bamber Bridge site and primarily works in the aeronautics, naval, defence, nuclear, energy and automotive industries.

Speaking after the court case, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said “Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn’t think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane.

“Assystem should never have allowed the end stops to be removed from the crane’s rails when it was still possible for workers to climb up the ladder onto the platform.”

Liam’s widow, Deborah O’Neil, said “When Liam had the accident, our whole world was blown apart. Our lives, and those of the wider family, have been completely changed. We have had to cope with emotional trauma, grief and financial difficulties, and our lives will never be the same.

“Our future is a much sadder one now that we cannot fulfil our plans, hopes and dreams with him. We hope accidents like this can be prevented in the future so that other families don’t have to suffer as we have.”