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Company fined

Alan Wratten, who died in a warehouse accident at Lenham Storage in 2006.
Alan Wratten, who died in a warehouse accident at Lenham Storage in 2006.

by Keith Hunt

A company has been left with a bill of almost £50,000 over the death of one employee and injuries suffered by two others at work.

Lenham Storage was fined £24,000 for health and safety breaches with agreed costs of £25,000.

Alan Wratten was knocked down and killed by a fork lift truck driven by Carlos Hollman in a warehouse at the family business’s premises in Ham Lane, Lenham, Maidstone, in December 2006.

The truck’s reversing alarm was switched off at the time.

A coroner later found there was no evidence to support “a finding that anybody was so grossly negligent of what they were doing that this fatal incident could amount to a crime.”

Maidstone Crown Court heard this week that warehouse worker Celia Bovis suffered back injuries when hit by a fork lift truck in October 2006. She has since been unable to work.

The third incident four days later involved fork lift truck driver Desmond Chilton, who was injured by a large suspended warehouse door collapsing on him.

He suffered fractures to his left shoulder blade, ribs, left hip, left leg and ankle.

Maidstone crown court
Maidstone crown court

Lenham Storage was fined at Maidstone Crown Court

Mark Watson, prosecuting, said the breaches involving Mr Wratten, 59, and Celia Bovis concerned deficiencies in workplace transport safety.

The offence involving Mr Chilton came under use of equipment regulations.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a case in which the prosecution seeks to submit that the defendant’s breach of duty was a significant cause of the death of Mr Wratten,” said Mr Watson.

But he added: “The management of health and safety at the premises was poor and fell well below the acceptable standard.

“The company failed to heed the obvious warnings in relation to work place transport safety, which should have been obviously apparent following the incident involving Ms Bovis.”

The company had since remedied the deficiencies.

Latest accounts showed that the company had a turnover of £18 million and growth pre-tax profits of £718,000.

Judge Michael Carroll fined Lenham Storage £20,000 for the offences involving Mr Wratten and Ms Bovis and £4,000 for the breach involving Mr Chilton.

He allowed six months to pay the £49,000 total.

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