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Farmer crushed by badly fitted door

18-04-2013

The barn with the roller shutter on the ground

A North Yorkshire farmer died when he was crushed under a half-tonne roller shutter door that had been badly installed, a court has heard (on 16 April).

Robert Ireland, 71, died from multiple injuries on 28 October 2010 at the family farm in East Heslerton, near Malton, when a roller shutter door that had been recently fitted fell from its ‘flimsy’ mountings. 

After an investigation into the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought a prosecution for safety breaches against the owner of the firm who supplied the door and the fitter who installed it.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Paul Halliwell, from Stockport, Manchester, who has since wound up his small company ‘Easydoor’, admitted a single charge under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Fitter David Whittaker, of Hyde, Manchester, also pleaded guilty to one charge of the same legislation.  

The court was told that Mr Ireland had the roller shutter door installed in July 2010 by Mr Whittaker, who had 18 years’ experience at the time, assisted by a trainee. The door was installed in the grain store at Manor Wold Farm. It had been in place for nearly four months but only used around a dozen times before the incident.

Mr Ireland, who was born at the farm and lived there with his wife, went to the barn and as he opened the roller shutter door, it came off its mountings and the entire door, weighting 424kg, fell some 4.5m to the ground, pinning him underneath.

HSE found that the door fell because there was a mismatch between the length of the door barrel and the distance between the supporting brackets. As a result, the end of the barrel that came free from the mountings first, was only held in place by a few millimetres. The installation problem was compounded by flimsy brackets supporting the shutter that could be easily deflected outwards by several millimetres due to the stresses created as the door was operated.

Paul Halliwell, of Beaufort Road, Stockport, was given 200 hours of community service and ordered to pay £2,000 toward costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act. David Whittaker of Bradley Green Road, Hyde, was also given 200 hours’ community service and told to pay £2,000 towards costs for breaching Section 7(a) of the same Act.

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