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Accident costs timber merchant £50,000

Independent timber merchant Rembrand has been fined £50,000 after a worker was crushed by a stack of falling wood at its headquarters near Dundee.

Three years ago, forklift driver Alan Welsh’s hip and ankle were broken as he tried to avoid a toppling stack of wood he had been attempting to make safe.

Rembrand Timber’s unblemished 30-year safety record was ended by the December 2009 incident at Shielhill, Tealing.

Welsh was left with a drop foot as a result of the offence and has been forced to give up playing football, but he returned to work with company and has received a civil claim settlement from the firm.

At Forfar Sheriff Court, Rembrand admitted an indictment brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act, that, on December 16 2009, they failed to provide a safe system of work at the Tealing base, whereby a leaning stack of timber overturned, trapping Welsh by his pelvis and legs, to his severe injury.

Local newspaper The Courier reports that defence solicitor Vikki Watt said the victim’s civil claim had been settled some months ago and the company had paid Welsh full wages for the time he was off work.

“The company accept that on this particular day, with this particular employee dealing with this specific incident, that they failed to have a safe system of working in place,” she added.

Rembrand carried out a full safety review within two months of the incident, leading to the appointment of a health and safety manager.

However, Sheriff Kevin Veal said there would have been several Health and Safety Executive publications available to the firm prior to the incident, offering guidance on steps that could have been put in place to ensure safe working.

He said that because it is not a trivial matter and that “by careful stewardship” the company “appears to be weathering the financial clouds of this time” and is therefore “in my opinion, able to pay an appropriate financial penalty”.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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