Genie fined £270,000 after fatal M25 accident

The Genie machine after it toppled over (Image courtesy of HSE)

Lifting equipment manufacturer Genie has received a £270,000 fine after the miscalibration of one of its machines led it to fall onto the M25, killing an access company employee.

Reading Crown Court heard that Rick Jeager-Fozard, an employee of Kimberly Access Limited, was carrying out a routine pre-delivery inspection on a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) on 5 June 2013.

The MEWP extended to an unsafe angle and Jeager-Fozard, who was working on the platform, fell with it onto the M25 motorway.

Miscalibrated sensor

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the machine had become unsafe due to a miscalibration of the angle sensor of its secondary boom, which started to extend even though it had not been raised to the necessary angle.  It was found that the MEWP’s secondary boom had raised to an angle around six degrees lower than required, the boom then extended beyond its safe working limit and tipped the machine over.

The miscalibration occurred through incorrect data being manually manipulated and uploaded onto the machine via a laptop using password-protected WebGPI software.  The execution of warranty repairs on the machine during this period, including granting access to the WebGPI software, fell within the conduct of Genie UK Ltd’s undertaking.

Guilty plea

Genie UK Ltd of The Maltings, Wharf Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £270,000 and ordered to pay costs of £165,175.

HSE inspector Stephen Faulkner said: “This was a tragic and harrowing incident. Modern high-reach MEWPs rely on accurate data to ensure they extend and operate safely, and steps should be taken to ensure the process of calibrating sensors is correctly followed.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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