Industrial accident news

Fatal explosion costs company £200k

A Warwickshire cement-maker has been fined £200,000 following a factory accident described as "an entirely avoidable tragedy".

Leamington Magistrates' Court heard that a 28-year-old worker lost his life in January 2008 whilst attempting to clear a blocked cement mixer.

A combination of steam and dust inside the machine created an explosion powerful enough to blow him through the factory wall, and he died from a traumatic head injury.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that the workplace accident was predated by a 2006 explosion involving the same mixer.

They said the failure to properly investigate this earlier explosion precipitated the 2008 incident.

"This was an entirely avoidable tragedy, which has left a young family without a husband and a father," said an HSE spokesman.

"The company could have made a number of changes to the mixer to reduce the flow of dust and improve the venting and cooling systems, or devised a new system of work.

"However, no action was taken and employees were expected to operate this dangerous piece of machinery."

The cement firm was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay a further £172,000 in costs after the hearing on Monday.

Out of court, the dead man's mother described him as "a wonderful son, husband, father, brother and uncle".

She said the factory accident "has left a hole in our lives that will never be filled".


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