Renderer fined over employee death

A Staffordshire rendering company has been ordered to pay a massive £600,000 fine following the death of an employee.

John Pointon & Sons, Cheddleton, had admitted a series of breaches of health & safety law during a hearing before Stafford Crown Court. The company must also pay £80,000 costs.

The court heard that in August 2004, employee Glyn Thompson ,45, had gone to save a co-worker who had become stuck as he tried to unblock an enclosed rendering tank.

Evidence was given to the court that as Thompson struggled in the slippery tank he was overcome by fumes. The fumes induced brain damage from which he later died medical experts confirmed. The co-worker he had saved survived.

Barrister for John Pointon & Sons, Richard Matthews, said the company deeply regretted the death.

He added: "The company accepts he should never have been in the situation he was, and never exposed to the dangers. Criticism of the company at the time is accepted. But the greatest mitigation is how much has changed at John Pointon.

"The change was beginning to occur before Mr Thompson's death. The expansion went quicker than the health & safety changes could catch up. There has been a massive programme of investment, just short of £4 million."

Fining the company Judge Simon Tonking said: "The company's safety structure was flimsy and ineffective.

"The system to clear blockage of equipment had obvious and inherent dangers in a slippery environment. Also inherent in this system was another deadly danger - the gases given off from animal waste. There was serious dereliction of duty which fell short of what should have been done."

Speaking after the case a spokesman for Staffordshire police commented: "John Pointon & Sons will have to pay a very significant financial cost for breaching health & safety legislation, but more importantly, they have had to make many improvements to make their premises safer."

In a separate action in the long running case, the company and managing director Carl Pointon were earlier acquitted on a manslaughter charge.

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