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Company sentenced over cooker death

Self-employed contractor Mark Bullock, 50, of Milton, Stoke on Trent, was carrying out repairs inside the cooker at John Pointon & Sons Ltd when the incident happened.

While he was inside, steam from elsewhere in the system fed into the area where he was working. He was badly scalded and died in hospital the following day from his injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Mr Bullock was allowed to enter the cooker without the proper precautions being taken. The company had not properly considered the risks of entering the cooker, had failed to put in place a safe system of work, and did not competently manage the work as it was taking place.

Stafford Crown Court heard that in 2004 another employee was killed at the same site when he entered a confined space without proper precautions being taken.

John Pointon & Sons Ltd, of Bones Lane, Cheddleton, Leek, was fined £660,000 and ordered to pay a further £187,632 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After sentencing HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “The cookers in operation at the company form the core part of the business. Steam and hot vapours getting into the cookers from other connected pieces of equipment is foreseeable, and precautions should have been taken to ensure all avenues which had the potential to allow steam to be fed back into the cooker had been suitably isolated

Added: 22-07-2015
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