Salford firm sentenced for canal boat death

October 7, 2012

A Salford firm has recently been fined a total of £50,000 for the death of an owner of a canal boat which was in a dry dock in a boatyard situated on the Bridgewater Canal.

Richard Ferris suffered fatal injuries after he fell over on a plank of wood and dropped head first onto a concrete floor situated below him.

The owner of the dry dock, Worsley Dry Docks, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it discovered the wooden plank which led to his boat had never been secured properly.

61 year old Mr Ferris and his wife had motored their canal boat to the dry dock in order to do some routine maintenance on the bottom of the hull. To do this, it was hauled out of the water and onto the dry dock.

Mr Ferris was trying to walk from his canal boat to the other side of the dock, but when he stepped on the plank, it moved. He consequently lost his balance and dropped two and a half metres below to the concrete floor that covered the dry dock. This incident had fatal consequences for Mr Ferris.

An investigation conducted by the HSE found that Worsley Dry Docks had not provided suitable, secure access for those people who were using the dry docks to carry out maintenance on their boats. The company has now ensured that the planking on the dry dock has appropriate hand rails. Providing an unsecured plank was an inadequate method of getting onto boats at the dry dock, particularly as boat owners regularly made use of it to walk high above a concrete pit that lay several metres below.

The latest data shows that 38 people died due to a fall in a workplace in Britain in 2010/11, and more than 4,000 were inflicted with a serious injury.