Firm fined after worker’s death

A specialist engineering firm has been ordered to pay fines and costs of £377,500 after safety failings led to the death of a worker from fatal head injuries.

Graham Britten, 46, of Kippax, was carrying out maintenance work in a vacuum casting furnace at AETC Ltd in Yeadon when the main isolcation valve closed suddenly, trapping his head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Leeds Crown Court heard on Friday that a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found repeated failings by the firm which had put many employees at risk for years.

Mr Britten was a maintenance fitter for the firm which manufactures products for the aerospace and power generation industries. He had gone to to fix a furnace after the main isolation valve had become jammed.

Mr Brittain was standing on a rising table within the lower furnace chamber inspecting the valve when it suddenly closed.

HSE established AETC did not have an effective isolation procedure for maintenance work on the furnace, had failed to act for several years on repeated recommendations from its own corporate health and safety manager and had failed ot adequately trian and supervise maintenance staff.

The firm was fined £300,000 with £77,500 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Judge T Bayliss QC, sentencing, said: “There was not robust system in place to ensure safety. It was, I’m sorry to say, a shambles.”