Firms fined £200,000 for death of Stockport worker

Brian Miller
Image caption Brian Miller's sister said his death had left a massive hole in the family's lives

Two companies have been fined £200,000 each for serious breaches of safety following the death of a factory worker from Greater Manchester.

Brian Miller, 38, from Denton, Stockport suffered fatal head injuries at the WFEL plant on Crossley Road in Heaton Chapel in January 2008.

He was found lying dead in the bed of a machine, by his brother Robert Miller.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Unisign and WFEL Ltd at Manchester Crown Court.

An HSE investigation found Mr Miller had been leaning over a part of the machine, used to manufacture bridges for the military, to fix a fault with one of the switches when a large hydraulic ram descended on him.

Netherlands-based firm Unisign Produktie Automatisering BV, which designed and manufactured the machine, was found to have supplied a machine which did not comply with European safety standards, as access should not have been possible when the machine was running at full speed.

The company was fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £28,313.

'More thought'

WFEL Ltd was prosecuted because it failed to ensure a safe system was in place for workers using the machine. The company was fined £200,000 with costs of £28,074 after admitting a breach of the same act.

Brian Miller's sister, Linda Smitham, 44, said after the hearing his death had devastated the family and left a "massive hole in all our lives especially for his partner, Trish".

"It saddens us greatly knowing a life had to be lost before forcing high priority safety measures to be put in place," she said.

HSE inspector Philip Strickland said Mr Miller's death could have been avoided "if both the machine manufacturer and the factory owner had put more thought into the safety of the people using the machine".

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