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Safety failures caused two factory deaths

Posted in: Workplace Injuries 

In December 2010, two engineers lost their lives after being dragged into machinery at a Merseyside chipboard factory. An inquest found that the deaths were down to a failure in following factory procedures. The inquest jury concluded that the tragedies could have been prevented had the engineers been trained on how to use the machinery properly and safely.

James Bibby and Thomas Elmer died from the major injuries sustained when they were dragged into a conveyor belt at the Sonae chipboard factory in Kirkby. The jury said, in a narrative verdict, that the two sub-contractors from Rossendale, Lancashire had not been trained on how to isolate the conveyor belt from the power supply – which could have saved their lives. The Health and Safety executive is currently considering criminal charges. 

Men died from the serious injuries

The conveyor belt automatically started up when the two men were carrying out repairs on the machinery. The belt was triggered as factory machinery started to dump wood chips into a silo, which caused the automatic response of the conveyor belt. A post-mortem found that the men died from the major injuries sustained in the workplace accident.

A spokesman for Sonae said: “Sonae had a permit to work system in place, which had it been followed would have prevented the tragic accident.

The same site also saw two fires over the last three years, which caused the death of one man and the loss of 220 jobs.  Around 10,000 people that live in the area are still fighting for compensation as they claim that the fumes have affected their health.

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