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Company fined over death of worker in 'industrial-sized blender'

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An industrial chemicals company has been fined £20,000 over the death of an employee in a machine used to manufacture construction, maintenance, and flooring products.

Building Chemical Research (BCR) employee, Paul Parker died in August 2005, aged 44, after he climbed into the 'blender' to clean it and the machine was inadvertently switched on by a co-worker.

Turning on the machine with someone inside should have been impossible, but two safety cut-out switches failed.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company and one of its directors, Stuart Reich, 62, of Gisburn, Lancashire, under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of employees.

After both defendants pleaded guilty, Bolton crown court fined BCR £16,000 and ordered it pay £8,000 towards the cost of the prosecution, and fined Reich £4,000 and ordered he pay costs of £2,000.

Following the case, HSE inspector Alan Meyer said: "This was a totally avoidable incident that resulted in the tragic death of an employee. The guard on the mixer was totally inadequate and both the safety switches failed.

"Had the machine had a proper guard and a working cut-out switch, Mr Palmer would still be alive today."

Before joining BCR, Mr Palmer spent 13 years in the army, serving in the elite 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment in the Falklands and Bosnia, and rising to the rank of sergeant and winning five medals of honour.

His brother, Ted Palmer, said: "Paul was just a happy-go-lucky chap. Not a lot fazed him -- he just took everything in his stride.

"It just seems wrong that he survived over a decade in the army and then was killed by a machine in a factory. I just hope highlighting Paul's death will stop it happening to someone else.

"My other brother, John, died from an asbestos disease a few years before Paul, and their deaths have really devastated our family."

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