Tuesday, February 17, 2015

17/02/2015: Worker, 22, was crushed to death by boxes of fish at UK firm

A foreign worker was crushed to death by boxes of frozen fish in a tragic accident, an inquest has heard.

A stack of pallets toppled over and fell on Tomas Suchy as he and his colleagues at Interfish Ltd worked in a cold store room in temperatures of -25C, The Plymouth Herald reports.

A jury at the inquest into his death in Plymouth, UK, yesterday found the 22-year-old, who had come to the UK from Slovakia to work, died as the result of an accident.

The inquest heard how Interfish had made a raft of changes to its health and safety policy following the incident on October 18, 2013.


Before the incident, Mr Suchy had been asked to help stack boxes of fish that had fallen over earlier on in the day, along with three other co-workers. But when their job was nearly complete, a stack of pallets used for storing the fish “toppled” over onto him.

Mr Suchy died “instantaneously”, the inquest was told, while another labourer was also hurt.

Dr Amanda Jeffery, a home office forensic pathologist, said: “He had catastrophic head injuries and there was nothing anyone could have done to save him.”

Mr Suchy, who had studied architecture at university, also had a number of other fatal injuries. Several of his co-workers struggled to fight back tears while giving evidence.

Robert Lajeckl, who had worked at Interfish for a year prior to the accident, said he had first met Mr Suchy on the train to Plymouth.

Mr Lajeckl said: “We had nearly finished the work and then suddenly [a co-worker] was shouting ‘run away’. The whole wall just fell over.”

The court heard that a number of health and safety procedures were not in place.

Emma O’Hara, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, said: “The boxes were stacked excessively high. Some of the stacks looked unstable and were leaning into one another. Some had not been placed directly on the one below and one stack was balanced on only two boxes of fish that weren’t palletised. There were a number of damaged boxes and pallets.

“There was no safe system of work or instruction to staff. Safe stacking relied on [experienced] staff working in the area. There was no robust monitoring in the area.”

Tony Reid, who was a forklift driver working on the day on the accident, said he had been injured in a previous, similar incident. He has since left Interfish and now works at Princess Yachts. Mr Reid told the inquest how they started work at 6am and at that point the pallets were already in “pretty bad condition”.

The inquest heard how Mr Reid had previously sustained a shoulder injury from falling boxes at Interfish in a separate incident.

“I told my manager ‘it is dangerous’,” Mr Reid said.

“He said ‘do the best you can’ and to ‘carry on’.”

After Mr Suchy’s death the food processing company was handed four prohibition notices and one improvement notice by the HSE. They complied with each and introduced a range of measures to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.

“Everything the company was asked to do was done,” said their legal representative.

Read the article HERE.

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