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Bedford Company to pay £415k after unsupervised teenage trainee dies

A company which manufactures pumping systems has been sentenced after the death of a 19-year-old trainee design engineer, who died when he came into…

A company which manufactures pumping systems has been sentenced after the death of a 19-year-old trainee design engineer, who died when he came into contact with a live 3 phase electrical system. 

Jake Herring was carrying out electrical testing work at the Grundfos Pumps Ltd factory in Windsor when the incident happened. He was working unsupervised whilst testing a live electrical control panel on 30 March 2009. 

It was heard how Grundfos Pumps Ltd had not adequately risk assessed the testing of live electrical panels to identify a safe system of work and failed to provide suitable training and supervision to undertake 3 phase live testing. An unsafe system of work was found to be the cause of Jake’s death. 

Grundfos Pumps Limited, Leighton Buzzard, Bedford, appeared at Reading Crown Court on Monday 11 May 2015 and was fined £300,000, with total costs of £115,000 after pleading guilty to breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 3, (1) (a), and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Reg 3, (1)(a), contrary to Regulation 14.

Inspector for the HSE, Paul Williams, said: “This tragic incident could and should have been avoided. Grundfos Pumps Limited’s failure to adequately risk assess the electrical testing process led to an unsafe system work being in place. Training and supervision arrangements were clearly inadequate.” 

“If live electrical testing has to be undertaken, suitable precautions must be in place.” 

Grundfos Pumps Ltd said in a statement: “On 30 March 2009 Jake Herring, a Trainee Design Engineer with Grundfos Control Solutions, who were at that time based at Windsor, died as a result of an accident at work. 

“This sad and difficult situation was met with tremendous disbelief by all concerned and Grundfos have fully co-operated with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) throughout the investigation process that has now been concluded. 

“The company pleaded guilty to two charges brought against it by HSE and they accept the penalty imposed by the court and note that, in passing sentence, the company’s overall good record in terms of health and safety and its prompt remedial measures were recognised by the judge. 

“As a company we remain deeply saddened by Jake’s death. He was a valued and well liked employee who showed much promise. We continue to extend our condolences to his family and friends who remain in our thoughts.”