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Joinery firm fined £1.2m after man is crushed to death at Workington depot

Howden Joinery Limited was sentenced today Photo: ITV Border

A major UK company has been fined £1.2 million after a man was crushed to death at a depot in Workington.

Richard Brown, a 48-year-old agency delivery driver, suffered fatal injuries while visiting Howden Joinery Limited's Clay Flatts premises on November 10, 2014.

Carlisle Crown Court heard Mr Brown died after a fork lift truck "overbalanced" as two pallets of kitchen worktops, which had a combined weight of 2,160kg, were unloaded from his HGV.

Mr Brown, stood nearby, was crushed by the falling load against the side of his lorry. Emergency services were called but he died at the scene.

Howden Joinery Limited was sentenced today after admitting health and safety breaches in relation to its own employees and others.

The court heard the maximum operational capacity of the fork lift truck was 1,520kg - meaning the fork lift truck had been 42 per cent overloaded.

Howden Joinery Limited's Clay Flatts premises Credit: ITV Border

Although Howden was deemed to have had a proper system of risk assessments and training in place, Judge Peter Hughes QC concluded this was "not fool-proof".

Indeed an investigation revealed there had been four similar fork lift truck overbalancing incidents at other Howden depots during 2014 alone.

Two of these occurred in the week before the Workington tragedy.

Judge Hughes noted the company's "excellent safety record". Since Mr Brown's death, it had also introduced fork lift truck overload alarms, and increased the safety zone size for HGV drivers.

He handed Howden - said to have a £1.2 billion annual turnover, some 600 UK depots and 7,500 staff - a fine of £1.2 million. It must also pay £33,902 costs.

Judge Hughes concluded that the company's breach of duty was "a significant cause of death".