In previous generations,the emphasis on workers’ rights and the responsibility of employers to protect them from harm was nowhere near as strong as it is now. However, over the years,the approach to such matters has evolved and these days it is unacceptable for companies in the UK and many other nations around the world to place their staff members in unnecessary danger.
For this reason, health and safety courses, risk assessments and other such things are commonplace.However, sometimes firms fail to take all the advice offered to them and to heed the warnings directed at them, meaning accidents do still occur.
For example, in November 2006, father-of-three Paul Thorngate was crushed to death while working at the Melloy factory near Pontypridd, which is located around 12 miles from the Welsh capital Cardiff.
He was operating alone in the heat treatment area when he was crushed by a falling crate of aluminium car parts. The accident occurred because the wire rope hoist that had been supporting the suspended crate broke.The 44-year-old had been employed by the firm for 27 years and was one of several individuals who would work overtime at weekends or nights alone.
During a recent hearing, it was revealed that after the firm had relocated to the Treforest Industrial Estate in Pontypridd in 2005, the hoist mechanism had been reassembled there. An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to ensure the hoist was examined by a qualified specialist after reassembly.
It also found that suitable risk assessments had not been conducted.As a result, Melloy pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches and was ordered to pay a fine as well as legal costs.Commenting on the case, Mr Thorngate’s partner Jayne Beer said: “Words cannot describe how much of a gap Paul’s death has left in all our lives. He was a vibrant and fun-loving person and he was much-loved by friends, family and colleagues.”With effective danger assessments, health and safety courses and other such things, firms can minimise the risk of such incidents occurring.