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Firm Fined £533,000 Over Deaths

Work Accident In Herefordshire


A multi-national group has been prosecuted over the deaths of two men in a Herefordshire factory.

Bodycote H.I.P. was fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £200,000 after pleading guilty in the case brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at Worcester Crown Court.

The company's works manager and maintenance engineer were found dead at the firm's manufacturing plant in College Road, Hereford on June 14, 2004.

The men had collapsed on stairs leading to a concrete pit into which argon gas had leaked from a large pressure vessel.

The oxygen system in the pit had been switched off and the ventilation system was not running.
HSE inspector Luke Messenger said: "Both these tragic deaths were not only regrettable but also entirely preventable.

"The risks from confined spaces and asphyxiation due to the presence of argon were well known to the company, which had experience of a similar double fatality at a Bodycote Group site in California, just three years earlier."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

David Urpeth from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “I welcome the fine imposed following this terrible work accident.  The utter tragedy here is that the company appears to have failed to heed lessons learned from an earlier tragedy.

“Sadly, all too often, I have to help people pursue a claim for compensation following an accident at work in circumstances which could and should have been avoided.”