Teenage apprentice dies in accident at work

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned company directors of their personal duty to protect their employees following the death of a 17-year-old apprentice.

Simon Murphy was working as an apprentice joiner at Chris Pridmore Joinery Ltd’s workshop situated on the Maun Valley Trading Estate in Sutton-in-Ashfield. On the morning 6 November 2006, he was carrying out his normal work duties when a wall bracket containing a number of 8ft by 4ft MDF boards fell. The planks hit him on the head and he was left buried under more than 250kg of wood.

Despite the frantic efforts of his work colleagues and by paramedics, Simon was pronounced dead on arrival at Kings Mill Hospital.

At Nottingham Crown Court, Christopher John Pridmore, of Scholars Way, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500 after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 4 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations Act 1998.

Describing the accident in court Christopher Pridmore said: “I was in the office at 11.30am when I heard a loud crashing noise in the workshop area. I rushed out to see what had happened. There was a pile of wood where Simon had been working. I looked for Simon but couldn’t see him. I then looked underneath the pile and saw Simon. He was unconscious and it took us about one minute to get the wood off him. We put a warm blanket around him and called for an ambulance.”

At an earlier inquest, a verdict of accidental death was recorded. Nottinghamshire coroner Dr Nigel Chapman said Simon, of Hawthorne Close, had been killed due to the inadequate storage of wood at the firm. He said: “Simon died from a blow to the head caused by a number of pieces of wood that fell from a poorly assembled wall bracket that was inadequate for the purpose it was used for.”

The court also heard evidence from Michael Griffiths, of the Health and Safety Executive which investigated the death, who said the wood should not have been stored in such a way. Mr Griffiths said: “This method of storing the wood is something we would not be happy with. Storing something of a substantial weight at height is not advisable. This method is not something we would have prohibited, but equally to have allowed it we would need to know that there were excellent safety policies in place to prevent an accident. This was not the case as was proven by the accident.”

In a statement released through the HSE, Simon’s family said: “Simon is thought of and greatly missed every day by all his family. Whilst the loss of Simon is not lessened we are all pleased that the court case has been concluded and that we can draw a line and continue our lives.”

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