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Fertiliser firm fined after worker crushed to death

Date:
18 May 2015

A fertiliser company was fined £80,000 after one of its employees died when he became trapped in an agriculture spreader whilst carrying out maintenance.

Kevin Alderton , 34, was working as a spreader operator for Bunn Fertiliser Limited, based at Updike Road, Seething, Norfolk, when the incident happened in February 2013.

Spreader operators were expected to carry out maintenance on their own vehicles, which have complex computer controlled hydraulic systems for the four wheels. Mr Alderton was working on the vehicle while it was still running when the rear wheels turned, crushing him against the chassis.

HSE’s investigation found that the company had failed to fully assess the risks of carrying out maintenance, had not provided safe systems of work or sufficient training or supervision, something Kevin Alderton had raised concerns about in 2009 and 2010.

Bunn Fertiliser Limited pleaded guilty to a charge brought under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In addition to the fine the company were ordered to pay costs of £19,709.

HSE inspector Ivan Brooke said: “Mr Alderton’s death was entirely preventable. It is a known risk that working on machinery while it is still operating can lead to major injuries or, as in this tragic case, death. Benn Fertiliser Limited failed to properly assess those risks, put in place safe systems of work and ensure their employees were trained and properly supervised.”

HSE’s website has extensive guidance on the safe maintenance of agriculture machinery http://www.hse.gov.uk/agriculture/topics/machinery.htm 

Notes to Editors: 

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. hse.gov.uk 
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” 
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk 
  4. More information about maintaining machinery safely can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/safemaintenance/heavy-items.htm 

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