Tragic Case Highlights The Need to Test Racking

Corby-based paper roll manufacturer, Merley Paper Converters Ltd, has been fined £70,000 for failing to adequately erect and maintain racking within its warehouse, causing the death of a 44 year old worker.

44 year old Desanka Todorovic of Corby, was killed on 16 March 2009 when racking in the company’s warehouse collapsed and heavy boxes landed on top of her.

The HSE told Northampton Crown Court that Mrs Todorovic was standing next to the racking, waiting to collect some flat pack boxes from the warehouse at Merley Paper Converters Ltd, as a forklift truck was being used to lift down pallets of boxes.

The racking collapsed and several boxes of till rolls fell on top of her, partially burying her underneath, and she died shortly afterwards after sustaining multiple injuries.

The court heard that the racking that collapsed had been in a poor condition with important locking pins missing.

The company, which manufactures paper rolls used in tills, chip and pin terminals and cash machines, was prosecuted after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that it had failed to properly control the risks to employees within the warehouse.

THE COST OF PERFORMING INADEQUATE RISK ASSESSMENT

Merley Paper Converters Ltd was found to have breached the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted paper roll manufacturer, Merley Paper Converters Ltd, of Corby and were fined £70,000 and ordered to pay costs of £30,974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Roger Amery said:
"Virtually all industries use racking in one form or another and I hope that this case will serve as a reminder that attention to detail is crucial when erecting, maintaining and inspecting racking to ensure its integrity."

NEBOSH qualified Phil Cockerton of Franklands, insurance and risk management specialists said:

The safety failings at Merley Paper Converters Ltd, resulted in the tragic death of Desanka Todorovic and could easily have been avoided had the company properly erected and then properly maintained its racking.

"With some sort of racking used in so many trades, it is vitally important that companies are aware of the impact that neglect to this area can cause.”

Although tragic, the case of Mrs Todorovic has highlighted our long held belief at Franklands that businesses need to introduce more formal maintenance and testing in order to ensure its integrity.”

HOW TO AVOID SAFETY FAILINGS IN THE WAREHOUSING INDUSTRY

Work related accidents within the storage and warehousing industry remain a major issue, with many thousands of RIDDOR reportable incidents recorded each year.
The most common types of accidents are:

• Being hit by a moving vehicle
• Falls from vehicles
• Manual handling
• Slips & trips

In 2009/10 the storage, warehousing and road haulage industries reported over 8500 work related accidents to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities. Almost 1600 of these accidents were classified as major injuries such as fractures and amputations.

Companies in the storage and warehousing industry should be aware of the main causes of injury and ill health in the workplace, where they can access useful guidance on how to manage these risks, the role of HSE in this sector and how to manage health and safety in warehouses to ensure compliance with legal requirements.