Judge says inadequate safety systems meant accident at portable building factory was “waiting to happen”

MRX Engineering Support Services has been fined £100,000 following the death of a welder at its Stackright Building Systems factory on Merseyside.

Keith Wharton, 41, was crushed by a steel lifting frame being used to move a portable building. The 680kg frame slipped off the hook of a crane and fell on Wharton and another worker, Christopher Cansfield, 31, who suffered a broken neck and leg.

MRX Engineering Support Services, parent company of Stackright Building Systems, admitted failing to ensure the safety of workers under the Health and Safety Act.

The prosecution told Liverpool Crown Court that the company had failed to introduce several simple measures at the factory on Knowsley Industrial Estate that could have saved Wharton's life.

The crane hooks lacked safety catches that could have prevented the frame slipping, crane operators were inadequately trained and there was no system to ensure that loads were not moved over people's heads.

Judge Graham Morrow QC said: “Simple expedients such as safety catches or a safe system for the segregation of personnel from areas where loads were being carried had not been implemented.” He added: “This was therefore an accident waiting to happen.”

The company was also ordered to pay nearly £17,000 in costs.