A kayak manufacturer has been fined £200,000 with a £25,000 fine and suspended prison sentence for its managing director after a worker became trapped and died in an industrial oven in 2010. This follows the company being found guilty of corporate manslaughter and two health and safety breaches in January.
Alan Catterall, 54, had been trying to scrape up dripped plastic inside of the oven at the Pyranha Mouldings factory in Runcorn, Cheshire when another worker, who was due to marry Mr Catterall’s daughter, turned the oven on without realising he had gone inside. Mr Catterall, a senior supervisor at the company who had worked there for 12 years, tried to escape using a crowbar but suffered severe burns and died of shock.
During the five-week trial, held at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard how the design of the oven meant that the moment it was switched on, the doors automatically shut and locked to save energy. Mr Catterall had no means of escape and no alarm due to the unique design of the oven which had been developed by Pyranha Mouldings Ltd.
The court heard that there had been a previous incident where someone was inside the oven when the doors started to close and that staff were fearful of being stuck inside the ovens. There was another near-miss incident when a moulder turned the oven on when a fitter was working underneath it changing the belt on a motor.
Pyranha Mouldings Ltd. was found guilty of:
- Corporate Manslaughter, contrary to section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
- Failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees pursuant to section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
- Failing to ensure the safety of an article designed, manufactured and supplied for use at work pursuant to section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The company was fined £200,000.
Peter Mackereth (Director of Pyranha Mouldings Ltd.) was found guilty of:
- Being an officer of a body corporate which committed an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 committed with the consent, connivance or being attributable to the neglect of the office holder, contrary to section 33(1)(a) and s37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as amended.
He was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for two years and fined £25,000. Pyranha Mouldings Ltd. and Peter Mackereth were also asked to pay costs of £90,000 between them.
Delivering his sentence, Mr Justice MacDuff said Mr Mackereth, from Llangollen, Wales, oversaw the design and commissioning of the oven.
“You don’t need me to tell you how far short of your duty you fell,” said the judge.
“‘It was repeatedly brought home to you in the trial. You will have to live with the consequences of your actions for the rest of your life.”
Martin Heywood, from the HSE, said: “Alan Catterall tragically lost his life because the way in which maintenance work was carried out on the moulding ovens at the factory was fundamentally unsafe.
“If Pyranha Mouldings and the individual prosecuted over Alan′s death had properly considered the risks to employees when they designed, installed and operated the ovens then he would still be here today.”
An escape hatch has been fitted to the oven since the accident.
Fire Safety in 2023 eBook
SHP's sister site, IFSEC Insider has released its annual Fire Safety Report for 2023, keeping you up to date with the biggest news and prosecution stories from around the industry.
Chapters include important updates such as the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 and an overview of the new British Standard for the digital management of fire safety information.
Plus, explore the growing risks of lithium-ion battery fires and hear from experts in disability evacuation and social housing.