Giant building materials mixer kills ex-soldier

Grant Prior 14 years ago
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A former soldier was killed after an industrial mixer started-up at a building materials plant after he climbed inside to clean it.

Bury based Building Chemical Research (1984) Ltd and company director Stuart Reich, 62, have been fined a total of £20,000 following Paul Palmer’s death at the company’s premises on Sion Street in Radcliffe.

The 44-year-old father of one from Radcliffe had climbed into the machine – a powerful, slow speed mixer – to clean it on 30 August 2005 when it was switched on by another employee.

Bolton Crown Court heard that it should have been impossible to switch on the machine while someone was inside.

Palmer was brought up in Holywell in North Wales and served in the Falklands, Bosnia and Kuwait during his 13 years in the army.

His brother, Ted Palmer, said: “My other brother, John, died from an asbestos disease a few years before Paul, and their deaths have really devastated our family.

“Paul was just a happy-go-lucky chap. Not a lot phased him; he just took everything in his stride. It just seems wrong that he survived over a decade in the army and then was killed by a machine in a factory.

“I can’t understand how manufacturing companies can become complacent over health and safety in this day and age. I just hope highlighting Paul’s death will stop it happening to someone else.”

BCR was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 towards the cost of the prosecution. The company’s director, Stuart Reich of Gisburn Road, Gisburn, Lancashire, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

Both admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees.

HSE inspector Alan Meyer said: “This was a totally avoidable incident that resulted in the tragic death of an employee. The guard on the mixer was totally inadequate and both the safety switches failed.

“Had the machine had a proper guard and a working cut-out switch, Mr Palmer would still be alive today.”

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