Apprentice Suffers Fatal Crush Injuries In Machine Fall

Sunderland-Based Engineering Company Fined For Safety Failings


A promising young engineering apprentice suffered fatal crush injuries during an accident at South Dock in Sunderland.

Jason Burden of South Shields was killed when a 970kg tunnel thruster - a gearbox and propeller used to steer a ship - fell and landed on him.

The 19-year-old had been reassembling this piece of equipment on a workbench when the accident occurred in December 2011.

His employer, Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co, had failed to provide a safe system of working and has now been fined for its role in the incident, having pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company was given a £75,000 penalty and was ordered to cover costs of nearly £48,000.
Jason's father Trevor Burden thanked the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for bringing the matter to court.

He commented: "Jason was the most loving, caring, hardworking and funny lad that you could ever wish to meet."

An investigation by the HSE found that no documented risk assessment for working on the machine while it was on a bench had been completed.

The regulator said the accident could have been prevented had the tunnel thruster been strapped or bolted to supports fixed to the workbench.

Following the hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, HSE inspector Paul Miller remarked: "The risks associated with the maintenance of machinery must be assessed before work starts, and must take into account forces applied to the machine in order to ensure that appropriate control measures are used to guarantee the stability of the machine."

According to HSE figures, around 30 per cent of fatal accidents reported in the UK's manufacturing industry between 2003 and 2009 involved the fall of a heavy item of some description.

The body has published a set of guidelines for employers to follow so that workers can do their jobs safely.

If you have lost a loved one due to an accident at work, our serious injury solicitors could help you claim compensation to help get the answers you deserve. Visit our fatal accident claims or accidents at work claims page for more information.