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Families Of Two Men Killed By Industrial Conveyor Belt Call For Tougher Industry Regulations

Families Of Two Men Killed By Industrial Conveyor Belt Call For Tougher Industry Regulations


By Suzanne Rutter

The devastated relatives of two men who were killed when they were dragged into the chain of an industrial conveyor belt say tougher regulation of the manufacturing industry is needed to prevent other families losing loved ones in such tragic circumstances.

The families of Thomas Elmer, 27, and 25-year-old James Bibby, will be renewing their own battle for justice as they join thousands of people from across the country honouring their loved ones killed or seriously injured in accidents at work on Workers’ Memorial Day (28 April 2013).

The mechanical contractors died on 7 December 2010 while working for the wooden fibre board manufacturing company Sonae Industria (UK) in Knowsley, Merseyside, during the firm’s regular ‘shut down’ day where essential repairs were carried out on its machinery. 

The men were employed by Haslingden-based firm Metso UK, which specialises in the maintenance of industrial machinery, to work at Sonae and were repairing a worn piece of equipment on an industrial conveyor belt which moved wood chips into a storage silo.  Irwin Mitchell is investigating why the machine began to move when it should have been isolated from the power supply.

Specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are representing Thomas’ parents, Ann and David Elmer, his sister Rosie plus Beverley Bibby, James’ mother in their battle for justice.

Keith Cundall, a specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office will be representing both families at a three-week inquest at the Merseyside Coroner’s Court in July.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is also investigating the tragic incident and if anything could have been done to save the men’s lives.

Keith Cundall said: “The families of Thomas Elmer and James Bibby have been left distraught by their loss and they understandably want answers about the circumstances surrounding their tragic deaths.

“On the day they died, the two men were working on a large chain conveyor which moved wood chips into a storage silo. The conveyor moved unexpectedly.

“We will continue to fight to get both families the answers they deserve about how this terrible incident happened.

“Workers’ Memorial Day is a particularly poignant day for James and Thomas’ families. We all hope their deaths won’t be in vain and will serve as a stark reminder to other employers that health and safety in the workplace should always be the number one priority.”

James’ mum Beverley Bibby, from Rossendale, says she hopes Workers’ Memorial Day events held across the country this weekend will show the heartbreaking effect workplace deaths and serious injuries can have on people’s lives.

Beverley said:  “We still miss James every day and find it hard to accept the fact he has been taken from us in such awful circumstances.

“Since we lost him, our main focus has been on finding out who or what was responsible for his death. We also want assurances that steps will be taken by those responsible to prevent similar tragedies happening again in future.

“Nothing will bring him back or make up for the huge loss we feel but we hope our involvement in Workers’ Memorial Day will raise awareness about how important health and safety in the workplace is so employees are as protected from harm as best they can be.”

Thomas’ mum Ann also from Rossendale, added: “Everyone should be able to go to work without the fear of being injured or killed. The whole family are in despair and are still trying to come to terms with his death.

“We need to know what happened and why and hope the inquest and HSE investigation give us the answers we deserve.

“We are supporting Worker’s Memorial Day to raise awareness of how important safety in the workplace is so other families don’t have to go through what we have in future.”