September 12, 2014

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Machinery firm and director land huge fine after worker’s death

Denbigh-based Sanders Machinery Ltd and its director David Sanders have been handed a huge fine after a worker died in an explosion. The company was fined £110,000 and its director was fined £40,000 at Mold Crown Court.

Kenneth Cooke, 62, died while using cutting equipment to separate a split rim crane wheel while the tyre was inflated and it “exploded like a bomb”. The company and Sanders denied failing to ensure Mr Cooke’s safety in March 2011 but were found guilty after a trial last month.

Judge Rhys Rowlands said that the tragedy was an accident waiting to happen: “The offences are particularly grave because the serious consequences that followed were so obvious,” he told the court.

Judge Rowlands said that Sanders was sentenced on the basis of “sheer ignorance” because he was not aware of health and safety guidelines. He told the court that Sanders knew “precious little” about what was required of him to ensure the safety of his employees.

The judge said that he was unimpressed by photographs showing the yard in pristine condition, which he said was not a reflection of its condition when Mr Cooke died.

The court heard how pictures taken at the time of the incident showed a number of clear dangerous practices.  Judge Rowlands said that Mr Sanders had failed to supervise Mr Cooke separating the rim and tyre. Mr John O’Bryne, QC, defending, said Sanders was remorseful.

After the hearing, Emlyn Jones, Denbighshire council’s public protection manager, said: “Mr Sanders’ actions and his disregard of his health and safety duties resulted in this tragic event and the council had a duty to take court action against Mr Sanders and his company.”

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