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Building firm guilty of safety breaches which led to death

Building firm guilty of safety breaches which led to death

Friday 29 September 2023

Building firm guilty of safety breaches which led to death

Friday 29 September 2023


The company which formerly traded as RG Falla Ltd has been found guilty of failing to ensure adequate health and safety compliance for non-employed persons on a work site after a UK man was killed by a falling fridge in 2018.

The company was found unanimously guilty by jurats on one count to have breached section 25(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance 1987, as amended.

Hurel Ltd, the new trading name of RG Falla Ltd, was both absent and unrepresented in a four-day Royal Court trial due to its ongoing liquidation.

Judge Catherine Fooks directed jurats that it was on the defence to prove it was not reasonably practicable to operate in another way. 

Barry Challen (50) died days after sustaining injuries from a large and heavy refrigeration unit which fell on him while he and colleagues were wheeling it into position inside what was to become the Co-operative Locale store on the Bridge on 20 May 2018. He was an employee of UK-based firm Trevor Wainwright Installations.

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. 

Judge Catherine Fooks directed jurats that it was on the defence to prove it was not reasonably practicable to operate in another way.

The prosecution case was that Hurel, which it said had overall responsibility for the site as the main contractor, and Trevor Wainwright failed to take reasonable steps to mitigate risks at the site for employees and non-employed persons. Both denied the charges.

The second defendant, Mr Wainwright, was acquitted unanimously on both counts by jurats.

Hurel Ltd was acquitted on the other count by a majority of 5-2.

RG Falla

Pictured: Hurel Ltd has been in liquidation since April of this year.

Hurel Ltd had handed over the site on the morning of the incident by unlocking the gates but did not remain to supervise operations. It had no role in road closures, a cordon, or the works relating to the fridges, all of which were undertaken by third parties.

While it did not provide evidence to court or under oath, Hurel Ltd had previously submitted that it wasn’t an employer as it was not contractually involved with or responsible for the delivery and installation of the fridges.

It also didn’t accept affects to people not in its employment, such as Mr Challen. 

The prosecution rejected this, saying the companies’ control of the site extended their responsibilities beyond contractual considerations.

Hurel Ltd had suggested there may have been multiple principal contractors, but submissions to the Health & Safety Executive did not verify this.

Mr Wainwright argued that Hurel Ltd was at fault for not ensuring safe access, egress, or an even and clear floor.

No sentencing date has been set as it was agreed that consultations should be completed with the companies’ liquidators.

READ MORE…

Trial into death from fridge fall begins

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