A Warwickshire cement firm has been fined £200,000 following the death of a worker in an explosion at its premises.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted CEMEX UK Operations Ltd, which makes cement and building products for the construction industry, after the death of 28-year-old Peter Reynolds, in January 2008.
The force of the explosion was so great that it blew Mr Reynolds out through the side of the building in Rugby, onto the road ten metres below. An ambulance crew attended but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
CEMEX Operations UK Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £172,000 costs.
Leamington Spa Crown Court heard the married man from Rugby, whose daughter Kayleigh was 18 months old at the time of his death, was treating waste cement dust in the bypass dust plant at the company’s Cement Works in Lawford Road.
While he was clearing a blockage in the lower mixer, there was a violent explosion of steam and dust from inside the machine.
HSE’s investigation into the incident found that CEMEX had recognised the potential for blockages to cause explosions as steam pressure built up within the mixer, but took no action to prevent them.
The court also heard the company had failed to review its risk assessment following a previous incident in May 2006, when another man was injured using the same machine. This explosion bent a metal-cladded external wall, pushing it out by 50cm.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Neil Craig said: “This was an entirely avoidable tragedy, which has left a young family without a husband and a father.
"If CEMEX had investigated the previous incident properly, Mr Reynolds would still be alive today.”
Jane Reynolds, Peter’s mother, said: “Peter was a wonderful son, husband, father, brother and uncle. His early tragic death has left a hole in our lives that will never be filled.
“The loss we have suffered cannot be measured by money, but we hope today’s fine makes those at the top of CEMEX and other firms think about the safety of their workers.
"After all, they are the ones who get hurt and killed when it all goes wrong.”