Ship repair firm fined £75,000 after worker is crushed by falling anchor (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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A&P Tees fined £75k after Redcar worker is crushed by three-tonne anchor in Middlesbrough dry dock
A SHIP repair firm has been fined £75,000 following the death of a crane driver crushed by a falling three-tonne anchor.
The family of Kevin Watson were at Teesside Crown Court to hear the outcome against A&P Tees, whose management admitted failing to properly ensure the 47-year-old's safety.
A verdict of accidental death was recorded on Mr Watson, from Redcar, at his inquest last November, after he was killed while working for the company at Middlesbrough dry dock in February 2009.
The father-of-two was hooking an anchor with a chain when it fell on his chest, causing fatal injuries.
Although he was a highly experienced crane driver he was not qualified to deal with anchors and chains from ships – even though he regularly did so - and the company itself had no code of practice at that time for lifting the heavy items.
Judge John Walford said a fine of £75,000, along with £23,500 costs A&P Tees were ordered to pay, was a sufficient punishment and properly reflected the various factors in the case.
The court was told the firm had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and had promptly rectified the failings which contributed to Mr Watson's death.
Judge Walford said: “Fines must be punitive enough to have an impact on the defendant.
“But I am also conscious of the danger that imposing too heavy a fine could adversely affect the employment of innocent employees.”
Richard Bennett, representing A&P Tees, which has about 40 staff, said the company had an excellent safety record prior to the accident and that had been maintained since.
Mr Bennett criticised the “total inefficiency” of the Teesside Coroner's office for failing to hear Mr Watson's inquest on time, which he said had delayed the Health and Safety Executive prosecution.
He said: “The family were entitled to closure long before now, as we near the fifth anniversary of Mr Watson's death.”
In a letter read to the court, A&P Tees managing director Chris McManus said the sense of loss felt by the loss of a “highly regarded and trusted” member of staff had been profound.
Mr Watson's former partner Joanne Ferry, with whom he had two children, Carla, 21, and Alex, 17, said his death had a massive impact on the family.
She said: “Even now I just keep expecting to him to turn up. He was someone you could always rely on.”
Ms Ferry, 44, from Middlesbrough, also hit out at the “ridiculous” delay in concluding proceedings.
She said: “Why should we have to wait nearly five years? All this should have been finished ages ago.”
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