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Liquidation limits stone slab death fine

A MATERIALS firm was fined just £3,000 last week after Southwark Crown Court heard it had gone into liquidation after a worker was crushed to death by six tonnes of stone slabs.

John Dunleavy died in September 2003 at Deco Marble and Granite's yard in Park Royal, London.

Mr Dunleavy was helping unload a bundle of slabs from a delivery lorry when the chains used to lift the load became trapped.While he was trying to free the chains the stones tipped forward onto him.

In sentencing, Judge Rivlin QC said: 'No sum could possibly represent the loss the family has suffered but, had the company been trading and successfully so, then the potential fine would have been £80,000.'

HSE principal inspector Mike Gibb said: 'Firms receiving deliveries should consider the use of contract lifts where a crane hire company can plan and coordinate all aspects of the lifting operations.

'All firms using and storing stone slabs should assess the risks from their storage and handling arrangements. Toast-rack style storage is preferred to prevent toppling of slabs. Inclined A-frames can also be used to ensure the slabs are secure.'