Cambridgeshire power company fined �150k for death of man struck by 700kg bale of straw

A CAMBRIDGESHIRE power company has been ordered to pay �150,000 for its role in an incident which left a man dead after he was struck by a straw bale.

Gary Darnell from Ely, was working as a driver at EPR Ely Ltd’s site on the Elean Power Station in Sutton, on 16 September 2008 when he suffered fatal injuries from a 700kg bale of straw which fell on to him.

Cambridge Crown Court heard on 11 February 2011, that the 53-year-old received fatal injuries from mechanical asphyxiation when, during an unloading operation using an overhead gantry crane, the bale of straw fell from a lorry on to Gary.

EPR Ely Ltd of Woodbridge - which produces electricity from burning straw at its Elean Power Station - was fined �120,000 and ordered to pay costs of �30,735.

The investigation and prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a number of failings regarding the movement of straw bales around the loading and storage area.

Gavin Bull, HSE inspector, said: “Incidents like this are entirely preventable - it is tragic that Gary Darnell lost his life.

“Companies need to make sure that they do not put drivers at risk from unsafe loading procedures. They should have systems of work in place keep drivers or other workers away from places that might be unsafe.

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“If necessary they should use a banksman to assist the driver, or have other equipment such as effective CCTV to make loading operations safe.”