R v JN Bentley Ltd 27.01.12

Construction firm fined over £100,000 after death of 23 year old employee. JN Bentley Ltd has been fined £106,250 and ordered to pay £90,000 costs following the death of one of their employees in March 2007.

Steven Allen was working on a site where a block grab attached to an excavator was being used to lift bags of cement which were piled on palettes. During one of the lifts the cement bags fell off the palette and Steven approached the machine to remove the palette which was still being held by the block grab. On doing so the mouth of the grab machine closed onto his head causing him severe injuries from which he died the following day.

Initially the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted both JN Bentley and the company who supplied the block grab. However, the HSE accepted that the supplier had provided JN Bentley with sufficient instructions for the appropriate use of the block grab. The prosecution proceeded against JN Bentley on the basis that they failed to take account of manufacturers’ instructions and were using the block grab for a purpose it was not designed for.

JN Bentley pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonably practicable steps to keep their employees safe under s2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £106,250 and ordered to pay £90,000 costs.