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Firm fined after employee is crushed by falling MDF

A joinery firm in Essex has been in court for safety failings after one of its employees was crushed by half a tonne of MDF at its premises in Basildon.

What happened?

The 50 year employee had been working in the joinery shop of the factory, selecting MDF boards to be cut down to size. The boards were stacked vertically against the racking.

He had already removed three boards, weighing 30kgs each, but as he removed the fourth a further fifteen toppled over, landing on top of him and knocking him to the ground.

As he fell he hit his head on a stack of timber, and was left pinned to the floor by the boards for several minutes before being freed.

He sustained serious injuries, including two collapsed lungs, five broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and a gash to his head. He spent two weeks in hospital, but has since returned to work on light duties.

An investigation into the incident found that found that the boards were unsecured and not racked, and the total weight of the boards that crushed the employee would have been around half a tonne.

What was the outcome?

Specialist Joinery Projects Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £598 in costs.

HSE Inspector, Kim Tichias, said:

“The risks from falling timber and board material in the wood-working
industry are well-known. There have been a number of incidents
in recent years, including fatalities, where poorly-stored
and unsecured boards have fallen on workers.

“Specialist Joinery Projects should have ensured boarding was secure and
that there was a safe process for using and handling boarding for
employees to follow. Simple and relatively inexpensive
control measures, such as racking, would have
prevented his incident and the serious
injuries incurred by this worker.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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