Death worker plunge - port guilty

FELIXSTOWE port today faces a severe sanction after admitting it breached health and safety regulations causing a trainee worker to be killed at the docks.

FELIXSTOWE port today faces a severe sanction after admitting it breached health and safety regulations causing a trainee worker to be killed at the docks.

The case has now been referred to Ipswich Crown Court as magistrates felt their powers were insufficient to pass an adequate sentence after Brantham man Dennis Burman was killed at the port.

At a hearing at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court in Ipswich yesterday the dock entered a guilty plea to charges of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees.

The magistrates decided the maximum £20,000 fine they could impose was not high enough and sent the case to the higher court.


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Mr Burman, of The Poplars, Brantham died on June 23 last year. The 51-year-old was crushed on a crane during a 12-day training induction before plunging 36 metres to his death.

Prosecutor, Geoff Knipe, on behalf of The Health and Safety Executive, told the court Mr Burman was one of six employees who started work for the docks on May 29, 2003.

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The employees started with a three-day general induction course before moving on to a 12-day Ship Work training course.

Mr Knipe said: "On day 11 of their training the six men were taken up to a cab on top of a crane to sit with the driver.

"There was no documented procedure to ensure the trainee's safety while they were in the cranes and none of the crane drivers had any clear written instructions for the procedure of trainees coming up with them."

The court heard after a half an hour demonstration of how the cab worked Mr Burman and another trainee left the cab.

Mr Knipe said: "The driver said he watched them walk to a point where two walkways met. He expected to see them a few moments later on the staircase leaving the crane and assumed they were on there. He moved the cab believing they were safely off.

"He then heard shouts from the walkway and looking from an observation unit he saw the victim falling from the crane."

Mr Knipe later explained to the courtroom that when the cab was moved the two walkways came together and crushed Mr Burman. He tried to climb to the outside railings but could not hold on and fell the 36 metres to his death.

Toby Riley-Smith, mitigating, said: "Nothing I say here today is meant to belittle the human tragedy endured during the incident.

"Dennis Burman's death has been a huge tragedy for all his family and friends and especially his widow. The incident came as a shock to everyone who works at the docks."

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