Two firms fined over dad-to-be's death

Richard Calsen
Richard Calsen

A DAD-to-be crushed to death in a tragic work accident should have been on holiday on the day of accident and had only gone into work as a favour, a court has heard.

Richard Calsen, 25, known affectionately as Chard, suffered crush injuries at the back of a refuse wagon and went into cardiac arrest at welding firm John Fowler and Son at Abbey Mill in Garden Street, Abbey Village, near Chorley, on May 17 last year.

The firm must pay a £65,000 fine and £12443 costs after pleading guilty to health and safety offences.

A second firm, Sheffield based Veolia Environmental Services, which owned the wagon he was working on, was prosecuted due to a safety switch mechanism that would have stopped the tailgate closing and leaving a metre gap, not being maintained.

The company must pay £750,000 in fines and £11,981 costs.

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, said proper thought was" never given to the risks and reducing them", leading to an unsafe system of work.

He added: "On the day of the accident Mr Calsen and another employee, William Fowler jr, were working on the vehicle.

"Mr Calsen was welding metal plates onto inside of the tailgate. The accident occurred when Mr Fowler intended to raise the tailgate a few inches but instead, tragically, activated the wrong controls in the cab.

"Mr Calsen had no chance of escape and tragically he was crushed. He was killed instantly.

"This was in my view, a fatal accident which should never have happened.

"There is no doubt his death at a relatively young age has had a devastating effect on his family.

"His partner describes him as a funny, charming and charismatic person. They were planning their future together and her three children adored him.

"They were looking forward to having Skye and the irony is he should have been on holiday on the day of accident and only went into work as a favour to the firm."

Preston Crown Court heard John Fowler and Sons previously admitted failing to ensure the health and safety of Mr Calsen whilst working in, or in close proximity to, refuse wagons, while Veolia later admitted a similar charge under health and safety legislation.

As the victim and his colleague finished repairs on the wagon, his colleague pressed a lever in the cab, just as the tragic worker was at the back of the truck.

A safety switch mechanism that would have stopped the tailgate closing failed. The court heard it was jammed in actuated position, allowing it to close fully.

Ambulances, police and the North West Air Ambulance were called to the blacksmith and welding company, but Mr Calsen, one of five children, died at the scene.

His partner Jade Halpin, 29, who was expecting their child at the time of the tragedy and has since given birth to a daughter, Skye.Mr Calsen's loved ones were in the public gallery as sentence was passed.

David Travers QC, defending Veolia, said the firm acknowledged the tragedy would not have happened if the safety switch had been maintained.

He added: "I know it is of little comfort but through me the company does apologise to those close to Mr Calsen."