Failure to manage subcontractor leads to £300,000 fine

28 Nov

Two companies have been fined after a worker fell from a warehouse racking system, suffering serious head injuries.

Liverpool Magistrates Court was told that during recommissioning work of a warehouse racking system, a worker fell 10 metres from the top of the racking onto the concrete floor below and sustained significant head injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that the main contractor, Ortec BV, had subcontracted the work to Mechantech Limited and that there was no safe system of work in place, and none of the workers had safety harnesses. There was also no physical barriers to prevent anyone from falling.

The investigation found Mechantech had failed in its duty to ensure the health and safety of its employees as it had not undertaken a risk assessment for working at height and had incorrectly assumed that the main contractor, Ortec BV, had done so.

Ortec BV pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay fines of £300,000 with costs of £4,742.75.

Mechantech pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay fines of £36,666 and costs of £4,742.75.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Jane Carroll said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to develop safe working methods and to ensure that their workers have the necessary information, instruction and training in that safe way of working. Had such a safe system of work been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

This case highlights the importance of effectively selecting, managing and monitoring managing contractors and of having clearly defined roles and responsibilities.

For further information on our Managing Contractors training course, please contact Lauren Hill on 02920 853794 or at