A building firm has been fined £75,000 after health and safety breaches led to the “tragic death” of a Lowestoft man who was crushed while installing fridges.

Barry Challen, 50, died after suffering critical injuries when a fridge unit fell on him while he and colleagues were moving it at a Co-op store on the island of Guernsey in May 2018.

After a four-day Royal Court trial started last month, Hurel Ltd was found guilty of failing to ensure adequate health and safety compliance for non-employed persons on a work site.

Judge Catherine Fooks said the company, which formerly traded as RG Falla Ltd, had abdicated its responsibilities by failing to produce a formal dynamic risk assessment or a method statement for the site and the specific works. 

There was “obvious risk” in the moving of heavy objects, and it was reasonably practicable for a firm of that size with significant resources and experience to have those in place.

“Safety cannot be compromised,” she said. The “economic penalty must be significant” as there was a “tragic death” involved, it was added.

There were no submissions from Hurel Ltd but mitigating factors included full cooperation with the Health and Safety Executive, only one previous conviction, and the fact the experienced Mr Challen should not have proceeded given site conditions.

Mr Challen was an employee of UK-based firm Trevor Wainwright Installations - which was acquitted of any charges.

He died days after sustaining injuries when a large and heavy refrigeration unit fell on him while he and colleagues were wheeling it into position.

Wooden ramps and boards which had been placed on the pavement and floor of the shop were uneven and unclear.

A set of wheels on the corner of the fridge clipped an uneven lip and toppled onto Mr Challen near the entrance. 

Words provided courtesy of Bailiwick Express.