St Neots death on first day at work costs firm almost �100,000

A RETAIL display firm has been fined �80,000 and ordered to pay nearly �17,000 in costs after an employee was crushed to death by a stack of glass he was unloading on his first day at work in St Neots.

Vitalijus Orlovas, 29, an agency worker originally from Lithuania, was unloading sheets of glass from a shipping container at Arken PoP’s site in Hawkesden Road, St Neots, when they fell on him. He died at the scene from crush injuries.

Arken PoP Ltd based at Studlands Park Avenue, Newmarket, specialises in point-of-purchase displays for many retail sectors. The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation into the incident, which happened on August 18, 2008.

Mr Orlovas was living in Peterborough at the time of his death and had just started his new job that morning.

The firm had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Peterborough Crown Court to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined �80,000 plus �16,914 costs.

The HSE investigation found that the company did not have adequate arrangements in place to unload the glass safely when the incident happened.

HSE Inspector David Head said: “The tragic death of this young man should never have happened. Arken PoP did not carry out their legal duty to ensure the health and safety of people that were working for them, and the result was this horrific incident.

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“This was a hazardous manual-handling job that involved unloading several large sheets of glass, each of which weighed more than 100kg.

“It should have been planned properly, and staff should have been fully trained in what to do. If there had been a safe system of work for this job, this tragic death might not have happened.”