The sawmill company, A. Diamond and Son, has been fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay £15,832 in costs for safety failings that led to the death of employee, Peter Lennon in September 2012. The sentence followed a guilty plea to the charge of corporate manslaughter in December 2014.
A joint investigation by the Police Service for Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), revealed that the employee was carrying out a repair to a large automated machine when the accident occurred. It is reported that the machine had not been isolated from all power sources so that, during the work, the machine moved and crushed him. This is said to have been allowed to occur even though repairs could have been carried out safely whilst the machine was removed from power sources. In addition, it is said that the safety guards preventing access to dangerous parts of the machinery had been modified and regularly bypassed for routine tasks. The electrical safety key for the safety gates had also been disabled, and operators did not know how to operate the machine in maintenance mode.
Reports suggest that the judge at Antrim Crown Court (Northern Ireland) told the directors of A. Diamond and Son that he was “staggered” by the fact that the 75-year-old family-run company with 50 employees had not been told how to operate their machinery in safety maintenance mode. However, he was prepared to accept the gross failures resulted from human failings and that cutting corners for greater profits was not the driving force here. The failure in the company's health and safety procedures meant the employees carrying out maintenance were taking their lives in their own hands. Since the incident, there has been an improvement in safety standards.
Linda Murphy, an inspector with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), said:
“ [This] 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.”
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