Latest: Timber company fined £75,000 for corporate manslaughter

The late Peter Lennon. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
The late Peter Lennon. PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.
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A. Diamond and Son (Timber) Ltd was today sentenced at Antrim Crown Court for criminal safety failings that led to the death of 54-year-old employee Peter Lennon.

The company pleaded guilty to a breach of corporate manslaughter and was fined £75,000 plus £15,832 costs at Antrim Crown Court.

Today’s judgement follows a joint PSNI and Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) investigation into the fatal incident, which took place on 27 September 2012.

Mr Lennon was carrying out a repair to a large automated machine when the accident occurred. Power to the machine had not been disconnected and during the work the machine moved, crushing and fatally injuring Mr Lennon.

The investigation found that the repair could have been carried out safely and easily whilst the machine was isolated from all sources of power.

The probe also revealed that the safety guards preventing access to dangerous parts of the machinery had been modified and were regularly bypassed for routine tasks. It was also found that the electrical safety key for the safety gates had been disabled, and operators did not know how to operate the machine in maintenance mode.

After the sentencing Mrs Linda Murphy, an inspector with HSENI’s Major Investigation Team said: “Our thoughts are with Peter Lennon’s family today.

“Peter’s tragic death could easily have been avoided if his employer had properly considered the risks associated with maintenance of the saw. Safety devices must be used and safe systems of work, such as using the machine in maintenance mode, must be followed at all times. Failure to do so costs lives.”

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Magee said: “This was a joint investigation between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Health and Safety Executive (NI). This company have been convicted under relatively new corporate manslaughter legislation.

“Peter Lennon lost his life as a result of a tragic incident. The conviction and sentencing sends a stark message about the importance of this legislation and possible consequences if it is not adhered to.

“PSNI will continue to work with partner agencies to keep people safe, including as they work.”