Construction materials giant Hanson has been handed a huge fine after a worker who had only been on site for two weeks was killed when his head was crushed between concrete blocks and a metal platform.
The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Hanson Building Products after the death of Peter Clarke, 57, at the company's distribution plant in Coleshill on 26 April 2008. The company was fined £280,000 and ordered to pay costs of £29,204.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Clarke, from Bedworth, was working next to a conveyor that transferred groups of concrete blocks from a kiln to a packaging area. His job was to remove samples of blocks for quality checking.
Sections of blocks were formed into larger groups for packaging by moving the conveyor's direction of travel backwards and forwards.
Clarke was standing next to a low bridge over the conveyor when he leaned forward to remove some blocks from the machine. Another worker changed the direction of the conveyor, crushing Clarke's head between the concrete blocks on the conveyor and the metal platform.
The operator of the 30-metre conveyor could not see Mr Clarke because his view was obscured.
An HSE investigation into the incident found that the company had only identified the risk of workers trapping their fingers between the blocks and the stairway.
HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove said: "This tragic incident could have been prevented if Hanson Building Products had carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to identify all the hazards for workers operating in this area.
"There were no safe systems of work for removing the blocks and the company failed to supervise Clarke adequately. The area where he was working was well known as a danger zone by other workers, but he had been on site for less than two weeks and nobody had told him about the risks.
"Employers should understand that where failing standards in the workplace result in serious injury or death, HSE will prosecute."
Hanson Building Products, whose headquarters is at Castle Hill, Maidenhead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.