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    BUILDING PRODUCTS FIRM FINED AFTER SUFFOCATION DEATH

    Workman buried alive during maintenance work on materials hopper   

    Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd and Quarry Maintenance Service Engineers (Robert Alan Taylor t/a) have been prosecuted after a father-of-two died at a quarry whilst carrying out maintenance work on a large limestone fines hopper in 2008.

    Mr Webber and a colleague were removing compacted material from the inside of the hopper when the material they were standing on collapsed. Mr Webber was buried under approximately12 tons of limestone dust and was suffocated. His colleague was buried up to his chest but managed to pull himself out.

    Taunton Crown court heard that both men were wearing a harness but it failed to prevent Mr Webber from being buried. His co-worker used a harness attached to a shorter, fixed length line which prevented him from being fully buried when the limestone dust collapsed.

    Entering a hopper must be a last resort

    Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd, of Castle Hill, Maidenhead, pleaded guilty to breaching the HSW Act Section 3(1) and were fined £27,500 and ordered to pay £27,000 costs.

    Robert Taylor, of Eriskay Gardens, Westbury, Wiltshire the owner of Quarry Maintenance Service Engineers pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 4 (2) of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 and was fined £1, 500 and order to pay costs of £10,000.

    HSE Inspector Ann Linden said:

    “Entering a hopper like this must be a last resort after all other possible methods of clearing compacted material have been considered and ruled out – and even then it needs to be very carefully planned and organised.

    In this case the parties involved did not consider an alternative to entering the hopper to clear the compacted material. The equipment and work method used in this case were not a safe option. If firms are going to send men into confined spaces they must be more rigorous with the safety systems they have in place.

    Because of this tragic incident two young children have been left without a father and Mr Myers was left traumatised by being buried up to his chest in limestone dust and being unable to rescue his workmate.”

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