Chulmleigh firm fined after death of employee in explosion
A North Devon crop spraying manufacturing company and two of its directors have been fined and ordered to pay costs totalling �152,165 following the death of one of its employees in an explosion. At Exeter Crown Court the crop spraying firm RJ Bateman En
A North Devon crop spraying manufacturing company and two of its directors have been fined and ordered to pay costs totalling �152,165 following the death of one of its employees in an explosion.
At Exeter Crown Court the crop spraying firm RJ Bateman Engineering was fined �65,000 for breaches of the Health and Safety regulations.
Directors Richard and Jason Bateman were each fined �10,000 in relation to Health and Safety breaches by the company.
The costs were �67,165 against the company and the directors.
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Judge Philip Wassall expressed his heartfelt sympathy with the partner and children of the victim, 40-year-old Anthony Reed.
"My first thoughts are with them and the members of Mr Reed's wider family. This was an appalling tragedy and nothing I can do will put that right. I wish the court had the power to put the clock back and their feelings are at the forefront of my mind," said Judge Wassall.
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"There is nothing the court can do to redress that loss and it would be entirely wrong and impossible to do that by measuring the loss in financial terms. The court has to consider the breaches that have occurred and the failings that led to those breaches in assessing the levels of those fines.
"The death of Mr Reed was an aggravating feature and I want to say that so the family realise that I have not forgotten about them," said the judge.
The court heard Mr Reed died following an explosion at the company factory in Chulmleigh. At the time he was learning welding and was working on a drum which provided a makeshift work bench. But it was highly flammable and the explosion blew off part of the roof. Mr Reed sustained severe head injuries in the accident. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital but died later from those injuries.
The court heard that the company was a market leader in making uniquely effective crop spraying equipment which was regarded as a bench mark in the farming industry.
The judge said the company was family run and there was no suggestion that it was run with criminal disregard for the health and safety of its employees. The remorse and contrition was obvious from the dive in profits following the accident and the effect it had on the morale not only of the firm but also its bosses.
The death of Mr Reed led to a full investigation by the Health and Safety Executive which divulged a previous accident in which a self-employed man working at the factory had fallen through the roof.