One of the UK’s leading printing groups has been fined £112,500 at Peterborough Crown Court after a maintenance engineer was crushed to death in a printing press.

Ian Ebbs, a 43-year-old father of two from Morton, near Bourne in Lincolnshire, was working the night shift at the Wyndeham Peterborough (then known as St Ives Peterborough Ltd) plant in Storey’s Bar Road when an automated process preparing the presses for a new print run came to a halt.

The problem was identified as a stuck locking pin on the paddle wheel assembly, which prevented it moving downwards. Mr Ebbs climbed into the machinery to get at two air lines which controlled the locking pin and swapped them over, freeing the paddle wheel which then came down on him, trapping him between it and fixed parts of the printing press. He died at the scene.

Wyndeham Peterborough admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at Peterborough Crown Court and fined £112,500 and ordered to pay £80,000 costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Alison Ashworth said:

“There had been two incidents in the months before Ian Ebbs’ death when machinery moved unexpectedly in the same enclosure, but the company failed to have effective procedures in place for capturing this information and therefore failed to act upon it. If they had, it is entirely possible that this fault could have been safely resolved, rather than leading to a man needlessly losing his life.

“This printing company relied too much on the skills and expertise of experienced staff like Ian Ebbs to sort out problems, rather than having proper systems in place to identify risks and control them.

“HSE is very clear about the responsibilities of employers and will not hesitate to prosecute companies who fail to take their health and safety obligations seriously.”

Wyndeham Peterborough Limited (formerly St Ives Peterborough Ltd) was owned by St Ives plc at the time of the incident but has since been bought by the Wyndeham Press Group.

The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to prevent death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

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