The family of a dad of three who was crushed to death in a tragic and avoidable workplace accident has received compensation from his employers.

Paul Thorngate, 44, from Porth, died when a metal rope gave way and sent 1,600lbs of aluminium car parts crashing down on top of him in November 2006.

The components had been lifted by a ceiling-mounted crane and were due to be lowered into a furnace for heat treatment at Melloy Ltd, near Upper Boat.

The rope supporting the load was frayed after it was installed unprofessionally causing it to rub against its casing.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Thompsons Solicitors was instructed by Mr Thorngate’s trade union, Unite, to pursue a personal injury claim against Melloy on behalf of his children and his partner Jayne Beer.

Melloy agreed to settle the claim for £60,000 at a settlement hearing today (Friday, June 17, 2011).

On Wednesday, June 15, Melloy Ltd was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £75,000 costs by Cardiff Crown Court.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9(2)(b) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Failure to make sure equipment was safe

Paul’s partner, Jayne Beer said: “Words cannot describe how much of a gap Paul’s death has left in all our lives. He was a vibrant and fun-loving person and he was much-loved by friends, family and colleagues. His untimely death has devastated all that knew him, including his children and four brothers.

“He was dedicated to his job and worked hard to make sure his work was completed to the highest standard. If only his employers had had the same attitude and work ethic then perhaps in a different life Paul would still be with us today.”

Andy Richards regional secretary at Unite said: “We welcome this settlement which should act as a wake up call for all employers in the region. Mr Thorngate died needlessly because of Melloy Ltd’s gross failure to make sure the equipment he was using was safe. Had the company involved the workers and the union in its safety discussion these health and safety breaches could have been spotted and resolved and Paul would still be with us today.”

Anthony Welsh from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This is a tragic waste of a life which could have been avoided had Melloy Ltd taken its health and safety responsibilities seriously. Three children have been left without a father, whilst Paul’s partner has been left devastated by his loss. Whilst we are disappointed with the level of fine ordered by the court – the company has only had a financial slap on the wrist when a man lost his life - we hope that when taken together with the compensation awarded in the civil claim Paul’s family can feel some sense of justice.”

Found dead at the scene

In a narrative verdict at the inquest into Paul’s death the jury said Melloy had not had any health and safety procedures or documentation governing the use of heat treatment equipment, nor was there a structured training and supervision programme for the process.

Paul was working alone at night at Melloy when the accident happened. He was found dead at the scene by the company’s security guard.

Melloy had moved from Pontyclun to a new base on Treforest Industrial Estate and the crane being used by Paul had to be dismantled and reinstalled. The jury found that the reinstallation of the Abacus hoist mechanism was not carried out professionally.