The trial into the death of a Lowestoft man who was killed after a refrigeration unit fell on him in an industrial incident five years ago has begun.

Barry Challen, 50, died after sustaining critical injuries after a tall and heavy fridge unit fell on him while he and colleagues were moving it on the island of Guernsey in May 2018 at a Co-op store.

Hurel Ltd, formerly RG Falla Ltd, and Trevor Wainwright, who runs an installation company where Mr Challen was employed, have been indicted on two counts each of failing to ensure the health and safety of employees on the site, as well as persons not employed on site. 

The prosecution case is that the company, which had overall responsibility for the site as the main contractor, and Wainwright failed to create or ensure a safe working environment which is a legal duty under health and safety laws. 

Both parties deny the charges.

Crown Advocate Fiona Russell told Guernsey's Royal Court on the morning of May 20 2018 the fridges were offloaded from a lorry and placed on four wheeled “skates” in each corner then manually pushed into position inside by three workers, one of which was Mr Challen.

The units were wheeled from pavement level up a wooden ramp, and wooden boards had been placed on the floor of the shop. The surface was said to be uneven.

As the men wheeled the third unit in one of back wheels “hit a lip or uneven” patch on the floor and toppled onto Mr Challen.

His family travelled from Lowestoft to be at his side during treatment at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital on the Channel Island following the accident. 

He was transferred to the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston in a critical condition but died four days later on May 24. 

Safety inspectors were presented with a risk assessment provided by the fridge manufacturer to Wainwright which was “very generic indeed”, according to Advocate Russell. There was also no dynamic risk assessment for the conditions on site she said.

This represented a a lack of organisation, supervision, and coordination which amounted to “significant breaches”, Advocate Russell alleged.

The trial continues and is expected to finish on Friday.

Words provided courtesy of Bailiwick Express.