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Norfolk fertiliser company fined after worker crushed to death by tractor wheel

PUBLISHED: 08:45 19 May 2015 | UPDATED: 08:45 19 May 2015

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

Norwich Crown Court. Photo: Adrian Judd.

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A fertiliser company whose worker was crushed to death by a wheel of his tractor have been ordered to pay nearly £100,000 in fines and costs after admitting breaching health and safety regulations.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Kevin Alderton had been carrying out maintenance work on his fertiliser-spreading tractor, at the Seething base of Bunn Fertilisers Ltd, but had not switched the engine off. When he knocked a steering sensor fractionally out of position, the on-board computer automatically turned the wheel to realign it, crushing the 34-year-old against the machine, the court was told.

Mr Alderton, of Redlingfield Road, Eye, was pronounced dead at the scene after the tragedy on February 8, 2013.

Health and Safety Executive officials carried out an investigation into the accident and found there was “insufficient information, instruction and training” to ensure the safety of those involved in machinery maintenance.

The company appeared at Norwich Crown Court and admitted one breach of health and safety and were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £19,790 costs.

Andrew McGee, prosecuting, said: “There had been no risk assessment so he (Mr Alderton) did not know what risks he was exposed to.”

He said it had been a “fundamental failure” by the company as no risk assessment for the maintenance work had been carried out.

Stephen Mooney, for Bunn Fertilisers, said the company had immediately suspended spreading operations and in-house maintenance across the 185-strong workforce following the tragedy and now sub-contracts the work out.

He said the company deserved credit for its early guilty plea and although the company had a full robust risk assessment done in 2011 it was an “oversight” that the maintenance risk had not been identified at that time although it was a “golden rule” that all machinery had to switched off before maintenance work took place.

Mr Mooney also offered the condolences to the family of Mr Alderton

Sentencing the company, Judge Anthony Bate accepted that prompt action had been taken by the company following the tragedy and that it had a good past safety record.

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