Firm fined after worker crushed to death

A COMPANY whose mechanic was crushed to death underneath a car transporter he was working on has been fined £40,000 for breaching health and safety laws.

A COMPANY whose mechanic was crushed to death underneath a car transporter he was working on has been fined £40,000 for breaching health and safety laws.

Paul Reginald Turner, known as Reg, was working at Belle Car Transporters & Specialised Trailers when a faulty vehicle was brought in.

The Dunmow firm had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to three charges relating to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees.

At Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday , Christopher Kerr, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said the father-of-two was attempting to gauge the hydraulic pressure on the Lohr lorry which involved him manoeuvring under the deck of the vehicle.

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“As he was working, he came into contact with the levers, because the hydraulic system was operative it functioned in response to that pressure and the deck began to come down.

“Mr Turner was trapped and the pressure on the lever continued to operate,” he said.

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A colleague then tried using a remote control to stop Mr Turner being crushed but the operation could not be overridden until the lorry's engine was cut off.

Paramedics rushed to the aid of the 30-year-old, of Ravens Avenue in Halstead, but he showed no signs of life and was later declared dead at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.

Mr Kerr said the company did not have the instruction manual for the vehicle, which was new on the market.

He said the company did not have written records of its health and safety measures, adding: “There were no hard and fast rules and people gained additional skills and people moved between teams as required - we say that is wholly inadequate.”

Mitigating for the company, James Ageros, said: “Can I express on behalf of the company deep sympathy for the sad and untimely death of Mr Turner.”

He said the events had come as a shock to the friends and colleagues who had since set up a trust fund for Mr Turner's children and now held an annual golf day to raise funds for it.

He said there was no more technically qualified company in the country in the specialist field of work and said they had a clean-record up to the point of the accident in January last year.

Mr Ageros said the missing manual had not even been produced by French company Lohr and was not available to the employees.

He said the company did not accept the incident had been a “flagrant breach” of regulations and said Belle had learned its lessons and now had formalised all its procedures.

Judge Roderick Newton said the actions of the company following the accident were like closing a stable door after a horse had bolted and called it a “most appalling tragedy”.

He said there was no doubt the trailer was unsafe but said Mr Turner's death could have been prevented by adequate measures.

He fined the company £40,000 and ordered it to pay £10,000 towards the prosecution costs.

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