Wandsworth Company Fined Over Employee's Death

The catering company pleaded guilty over role in the industrial accident

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Rayners Catering Hire Ltd pleaded guilty to two offences under the Health & Safety at Work Act after its warehouse manager David Churchill was killed at the company’s Wandsworth HQ in July 2009.

Kingston Crown Court heard that the company hired out catering equipment including tables and chairs, but failed to have proper procedures in place to ensure the safety of their staff and of visitors to their Garratt Lane warehouse.

Mr Churchill died from serious head injuries after a pile of wooden trestle tables which had not been correctly stacked and not properly secured fell on top of him.

The court was told that on the day of the accident, a delivery driver had dropped off a consignment of 25 tables and been told to load them into three wheeled cages or caddies. Two of the caddies lacked safety straps that would have prevented tables falling out of them. In addition the tables were stacked incorrectly because the driver was not told how to do it properly.

The court heard that delivery drivers, who were often expected to stack the tables and chairs they were dropping off, were not given any guidance on how to do this task correctly, and that the company had no system in place to ensure that defective or unsafe caddies were taken out of use.

The judge in the case, which was brought to court by the council’s environmental services division, fined the company £60,000.

June 14, 2012"1" align="left">Wandsworth’s cabinet member for environment, culture and community safety Cllr Jonathan Cook said:
“This was a dreadful accident that could have been avoided if this company had followed some straight-forward, common sense rules about safety in its warehouse. In this case, the bosses didn’t do nearly enough to ensure the safety of their employees and also of visitors to their premises and this had terrible consequences.

“It is vital that all company directors and executives keep their safety procedures under constant review and act quickly to put things right if they spot any problems. It is only by proper vigilance that tragic incidents like this can be avoided.”

June 13, 2012