Leeds firm found liable for man's death

Leeds firm found liable for man's death 2841

A specialist engineering company in Leeds have been found liable for a man's death after an industrial accident in November 2009.

Graham Britten, 46, was maintaining a machine at AETC's plant in Yeadon and, as was normal practice among operators, climbed inside to make sure everything was clean and working properly before it was used to cast more products.

However, as he did this the equipment's main isolation valve rapidly closed and trapped Mr Britten's head - killing him instantly.

Leeds Crown Court heard a that Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation uncovered widespread failings by bosses at AETC.

Inspectors found the company did not have an effective isolation procedure for maintenance work on its furnaces and had failed to act for several years on recommendations made by its own health and safety manager.

The court was also told the lack of a monitored maintenance policy had resulted in a reduction in the number of guidelines that may have prevented Mr Britten from entering the machine as he did and if this was supervised properly it is unlikely the 46-year-old would have suffered the fatal accident.

It was also discovered furnace control systems intended to protect operators when they are carrying out routine operations were inadequate and exposed staff to an unacceptably high level of risk.

 As a result of these failings, bosses at AETC pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, leading to fines and costs totalling £377,500.

After sentencing, HSE inspector Dr Angus Robbins said: "There were two issues here. Firstly, the furnace operators routinely climbed into the furnace to clean, thinking that when the furnace doors were open the valve could not move. This was not the case and they were continually at risk.

"Secondly, there was no safe system for maintenance work. There were no isolation procedures and, as a result, the fitters developed their own methods of working."

Posted by Chris Stevenson