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Companies sentenced in HSE inspector’s “most horrific case”

James Bibby, 25, and Thomas Elmer, 27, were both killed when carrying out maintenance work on a conveyor belt at the Sonae factory in Kirkby.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today that Mr Elmer, employed at the time by Metso Paper Ltd and Mr Bibby, a self-employed contractor for the same company, had been asked to replace part of conveyor belt at Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd’s Merseyside plant.

While carrying out the work the conveyor suddenly and unexpectedly started to operate, dragging both men into the machinery causing catastrophic fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found multiple failings by both companies to properly assess the risks associated with the work James and Thomas were carrying out.

Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd’s many failings included not properly assessing the risks associated with the work on the conveyor or sharing these with contractors, not having in place a proper process for managing contractors or a procedure for isolating dangerous machinery, and failing to train or check the competence of workers.

Valmet Ltd took over Metso Ltd in 2013 and was prosecuted for failing to ensure the site its workers were visiting had sufficient risk assessments and processes in place. It also failed to ensure its workers and contractors had adequate training for the tasks to be carried out or provided with the necessary information on the work they were being asked to perform.

Sonae Industria (UK) Ltd was fined £220,000, with costs of £107,000, after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Valmet Ltd was fined £190,000, with costs of £107,000, after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Added: 08-12-2015
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