Leeds engineering firm prosecuted for fatal accident at work

An engineering firm in Leeds has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after safety failings resulted in a fatal accident at work.

Graham Britten, 46, was killed whilst carrying out maintenance in a vacuum furnace at AETC Ltd in Yeadon. The main isolation valve closed suddenly trapping Mr Britten’s head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The November 2009 incident was subsequently investigated by the HSE who uncovered repeated failings by the Leeds company. These failings had put many employees at risk of death or injury for several years prior to the death of Mr Britten.

Mr Britten had entered the furnace with a colleague to fix a fault after the main isolation valve had become jammed part way whilst closing. The furnace consists of two chambers separated by the large sliding isolation valve.

Mr Britten was standing on the rising table within the lower furnace chamber while he inspected the valve. Suddenly the valve closed causing fatal head injuries.

The HSE investigation established that AETC Ltd did not have an effective isolation procedure for maintenance work on the furnace, they had failed to act for many years on the repeated recommendations of their own Corporate Health and Safety Manager and they had failed to adequately train and supervise staff.

There was no consistent isolation policy or monitoring which resulted in there being no effective procedures in place to prevent Mr Britten entering the chamber without first isolating the equipment and releasing stored energy.

In addition, the investigation found the furnace control systems, intended to protect operators when carrying out routine cleaning within the chambers of the furnace,  were inadequate and exposed workers to unnecessary risk.

Melanie Lidstone Land, expert personal injury lawyer says, “This is a tragic loss of life in an accident at work that could and should have been prevented.   The company should have taken the necessary health and safety steps to reduce risks to works whilst carrying out maintenance and cleaning on a dangerous piece of equipment.”

“Everyone has the right to go to and return from work safely.  There is no excuse to ignore safety issues and recommendations.  The consequences are horrific and, in this tragic incident, a man lost his life.”

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident at work that was not your fault, Melanie is on hand to offer free initial advice about making a claim for compensation.

Melanie is part of Swain & Co.’s personal injury team who work on a No Win No Fee basis for personal injury claims.

So, call Melanie for free on 0800 0351 999