Belfast Telegraph

Company fined over worker's death

The death of a sawmill worker could have been easily avoided, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has said.

Peter Lennon, a 54-year-old father-of-three, was crushed to death when the piece of machinery he was fixing fell on top of him in September 2012.

An investigation into the circumstances of the accident found the power had not been disconnected; safety guards had been modified and were regularly bypassed for routine tasks; and an electrical key for safety gates had also been disabled.

Linda Murphy, an inspector with HSENI's major investigation team said: "Peter's tragic death could easily have been avoided if his employer had properly considered the risks associated with maintenance of the saw.

"Safety devices must be used and safe systems of work, such as using the machine in maintenance mode, must be followed at all times.

"Failure to do so costs lives."

The comments were made after Mr Lennon's employers, A Diamond and Son (Timber) Ltd were fined £75,000 for corporate manslaughter at Antrim Crown Court.

During the repairs, the large automated machine moved, crushing Mr Lennon when it toppled.

HSENI investigators also found that operators did not know how to operate the machine in maintenance mode.

The Coleraine-based company, which admitted the safety breaches, was also ordered to pay £15,832 court costs.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Magee said: "This company have been convicted under relatively new corporate manslaughter legislation.

"Peter Lennon lost his life as a result of a tragic incident. The conviction and sentencing sends a stark message about the importance of this legislation and possible consequences if it is not adhered to."

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act came into force in April 2008. It clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.

Today's judgement follows a joint PSNI and HSENI investigation into the fatal incident, which took place on September 27 2012.

Mr Lennon was carrying out a repair to a large automated machine when the accident occurred. Power to the machine had not been disconnected and during the work the machine moved, crushing and fatally injuring Mr Lennon.

The investigation found that the repair could have been carried out safely and easily whilst the machine was isolated from all sources of power.

After the sentencing Mrs Linda Murphy, an inspector with HSENI's Major Investigation Team, said "Our thoughts are with Peter Lennon's family today. Peter's tragic death could easily have been avoided if his employer had properly considered the risks associated with maintenance of the saw. Safety devices must be used and safe systems of work, such as using the machine in maintenance mode, must be followed at all times. Failure to do so costs lives.

"It is vital that companies identify any risks associated with maintenance of machinery before work starts and ensure that appropriate control measures and systems of work are used to protect employees and others."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph