Director jailed for fatal spider lift overturn

A company director in the UK has been jailed for 12 months following the death of one of his employees resulting from the overturn of a spider lift during loading. See Fatal lift incident
Paul Williamson, 51, died on January 29th 2014 when the 18 metre spider lift he was loading in a street in Stockport, near Manchester, England, overturned on him as he walked alongside with the remote controller. He was employed by Thorn Warehousing Ltd, and director Kenneth Thelwall has now been sentenced to a 12 month prison sentence, ordered to pay costs of £4,000 and was disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

The investigation discovered that Williamson had not been adequately trained on the use of the ramps, the truck or the spider lift. There was no risk assessment in place and no safe system of work had been created for the equipment, which had only been in operation for eight days.
The scene shortly after the emergency services had completed their work

The father of three was driving the machine a narrow aisle Platform Basket 1800, up the ramps of the 3.5 tonne truck, when it came off and landed on him. The gradient of the ramps were greater than the manufacturer’s specification and were not secured properly to the truck.

Thorn Warehousing was fined £166,000 and ordered to pay £10,400 costs, but has since gone into administration.

HSE inspector, Helen Jones said: “Kenneth Thewall failed in his duty as a director to protect his workers. He was involved in the day to day running of Thorn Warehousing and should have ensured the company provided Paul Williamson with the right equipment and training to carry out his job. Had he done so Mr Williamson would still be alive today.”

“This case should act as a stark warning to all company directors of their personal responsibility to protect their workers’ health and safety and the tragic consequences when they fail.”


Family member
The justice system leaves a lot to be desired. Ken Thelwall served just 3 months whilst we as a family still live with the devastation caused. We believe he now is trading as a sole trader from the same address in Enfield with a website that states that were established in 2009 and boast that they operate a strict health & safety policy but do not show any pictures of their actual machinery - only the arms because they would show vehicles from a company that is actually in liquidation.

29 Jan 2017

From this description Kenneth was too lackadaisical about his team. Author Lester Bittle wrote in his tremendous book What Every Supervisor Should Know about this aire that can overtake supervisory people. I hope Kenneth can make a positive situation is a prison environment to conduct classes on safety, training and supervision.

8 Sep 2016

I agree with Mr. Kooh. There must be a fair amount of uncaring nincompoops in this world.

6 Sep 2016

Tfil Kooh
Beats me how anybody could show a dislike to the comments posted. A man has been killed! Due to the negligence of his company.
Surprisingly though, some other companies have not received similar sentences after their employees have been killed. Or was it a case of the correct boxes @RAMS had been ticked which prevented their directors being jailed?

3 Sep 2016

Well said Mr Brady, very well said. As I for one support you.

Kind Regards
Mike Ponsonby

3 Sep 2016

Our thoughts go out to Mr Williamsons family, nothing can bring him back and it is such a tragedy. There is a message for ALL Company owners in this. Ensuring the Safety of your staff and clients is paramount. I know that we have made mistakes in the past on this subject, but will be reviewing all our training procedures as a consequence of this article. There for the grace of God in so many ways for so many of us.

Have a safe weekend one and all.

2 Sep 2016
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