Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

October 13, 2014

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Boss denies unlawful killing due to gross negligence

It has been heard in court that a man died in a cement mixer over a decade ago because of the gross negligence of his boss.

Lee Balkwell, 33, suffered fatal injuries in 2002 at a farm in Upminster, east London after he and his boss, Simon Bromley, 45, had been inside the drum of the mixer trying to loosen hardening concrete.

It was alleged at Chelmsford Crown Court that after exiting the drum, Mr Balkwell became entangled on the outside of the machine and died after becoming trapped between the drum and chassis of the vehicle.

Detectives exhumed Mr Balkwell’s body from Corbets Tay cemetery last year in order to pursue evidence which was not developed in the hours after his death.

Mr Bromley denies unlawfully killing Mr Balkwell as a result of gross negligence and breaking health and safety laws by failing to protect Mr Balkwell at work.

Opening the prosecution’s case, Karim Khalil QC claimed Mr Bromley had a “lax attitude to safety”.

It was heard that:

  • Mr Balkwell had not been offered any training for using the mixer.
  • Mr Bromley had not provided him with safety clothing or equipment.
  • Basic safety measures, including locking levers which controlled the rotation of the drum, completely isolating the engine that powers it, and making sure the cab door was locked, so there was no chance the drum could start up with someone inside, would have reduced the risk of a serious accident.

In court, Mr Bromley was quoted as saying, “there’s no safe way” to operate a concrete mixer when interviewed by police in August 2002.

The trial continues.


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