Man killed when elevating work platform falls on to M25

Fallen MEWP
Man dies when MEWP falls. Photo: HSE

Genie UK, which makes mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), has been fined £270,000 with £165,175 costs following the death of a man when one of its platforms fell over on to the M25.

Reading Crown Court heard on 27 June that the man who died was Rick Jeager-Fozard, an employee of Kimberly Access Ltd. He was carrying out a routine pre-delivery inspection on a MEWP on 5 June 2013. He was on the platform of the MEWP when it extended to an unsafe angle and fell on to the motorway.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the device had become unsafe because of a miscalibration of its secondary boom angle sensor. The boom started to extend even though the boom had not been raised to the necessary angle. It was found that the MEWP’s secondary boom had raised to an angle around six degrees lower than required. The boom extended beyond its safe working limit and the MEWP tipped over.

The miscalibration occurred through incorrect data being manually manipulated and uploaded to the machine via a laptop using password protected WebGPI software.

The carrying out of warranty repairs on the machine during this period, including granting access to the WebGPI software, fell within the conduct of Genie UK Ltd’s undertaking.

Genie UK Ltd of Grantham, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said afterwards: “This was a tragic and harrowing incident. Modern high reach MEWPs rely on accurate data to ensure they extend and operate safely and steps should be taken to ensure the process of calibrating sensors is correctly followed.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”