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Employer Sentenced After Worker Crushed to Death

A Kilmarnock based firm has appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, where it was fined for safety failings after a worker was crushed to death when a heavy gate came off its hinges and fell onto him.

Malcolm Macdonald Kennedy, who was 69, had been working for the firm on a casual basis for around eight years when the incident occurred.

On the day of the tragedy, a CCTV recording showed him arriving at 7am and making his way towards the gates of the yard. Cameras did not cover the area where the incident happened, but it appears that when Mr Kennedy opened a set of double gates at the side of the compound, one of the 180kg gates came off its hinges and fell on top of him

He was found an hour later by another employee after he saw that one of the gates was lying on the ground and went to investigate. Despite attempts by paramedics to resuscitate Mr Kennedy, he was later pronounced dead at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed the original gates and gateposts had been installed in 2003, but at some point later extra hinges were welded onto the posts and then packed with metal washers. This had rendered the gate defective and much more likely to come off its hinges.

The firm’s owner was fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

“Employers have a duty to provide and maintain a safe means of access and egress for their employees,” commented HSE inspector Lesley Hammond. “The tragic death of Mr Kennedy could easily have been prevented had the gates been installed and maintained properly. Unfortunately, this failing led to the loss of Mr Kennedy’s life.”

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