Roller door accident strangles worker with own hoodie

  • Health & Safety
highly culpable - fined
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

An industrial door firm has been deemed ‘highly culpable’ and fined £165,000 by a Scottish court, following the death of an employee in Aberdeen.

Mark Mathers, described as an experienced mechanic, was working for Patrick Forman Industrial Doors to service, repair and replace a door torsion spring for a roller door.

Working on site with a colleague at Specialist Cars Volkswagen in Aberdeen, Mr Mathers, 33, was wearing a hooded top that became caught in the spring mechanism, choking him.

His colleague acted quickly to cut his top off with a knife, but Mr Mathers had already slipped into unconsciousness. Rushed to hospital, he spent three days in intensive care before life support was removed. Mr Mathers had suffered a brain stem haemorrhage, which caused a fatal hypoxic brain injury and mechanical asphyxia.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard how Patrick Forman Industrial Doors failed to ensure the risks of roller doors (including those of door torsion springs) had been sufficiently assessed to protect employees at work. The company pleaded guilty to this charge, as well as failing to implement and maintain a safe system of work for staff while repairing and maintaining torsion springs.

Employees also lacked the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to do this work safely. The court heard workers had ‘repeatedly’ been told not to wear loose clothing and had issued black boiler suits as PPE for them to wear.

There was, however, no formal policy in place to enforce this control measure.

Sheriff Christine McCrossan told the court that it is the “duty of every employer to ensure the health and safety of all its employees”, adding that “it is an offence to fail to discharge that duty”.

She went on to describe what happened to Mark as an “awful accident” and said she believed a number of workers had the potential to be “exposed to harm” because of the lack of a workwear policy.

Sheriff McCrossan said she believed Patrick Forman Industrial Doors should have done more than 'counsel' its employees not to wear hoodies and should have put guidelines in place to stop it.

Imposing a total fine of £165,000 (costs are not awarded in Scotland), she said she considered there to be 'high culpability' on the firm’s part.

Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said:

“Mark Mathers lost his life in circumstances which could have been avoided had the risks been recognised and a safe system of work put in place.

“By failing to have suitable measures in place and provide the necessary information to carry out work safely Patrick Forman Industrial Doors put their employees in danger,' she added.

“This prosecution should remind employers that failing to take reasonable health and safety measures can have fatal consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.

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