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UPM fined £350,000 after fatality

Paper manufacturer UPM has been fined £350,000 after the death of a contractor at its Shotton paper mill.

The Ayrshire company was also ordered to pay costs in excess of £6,000 as well as a £170 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

29-year-old Austin Thomas, an employee of CM Downton, a haulage business providing warehouse services for UPM, was crushed to death on 6 February 2017 by a Volvo shovel loader at the plant in north-east Wales.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no safe system of work to segregate pedestrians and vehicles on-site, and that drivers had limited visibility when driving large shovel loaders.

Gloucestershire-based CM Downton was also fined £350,000 by Mold Magistrates Court, and hit with similar costs and surcharge, after pleading guilty to breaching the same Act.

HSE inspector Mhairi Duffy said after the hearing: “This death would have been prevented had an effective system for managing workplace transport been in place.

“This is a reminder to all employers to properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risks from moving vehicles in their workplaces.”

A minute’s silence was held in the days after the incident for the victim.

A Downton Group spokesperson said: ”CM Downton and its directors are extremely saddened by the tragic death of Austin Thomas. Austin was a highly regarded and valuable member of the Downton team working at UPM’s Shotton mill.

“The company immediately accepted its responsibility for any circumstances which may have contributed to the events leading up to Austin’s fatal accident.

”Immediately after the accident, working closely with the HSE, it took steps, alongside UPM, the owner of the premises, to address any concerns.

”The company recognises that this hearing represents a difficult milestone for Austin’s family, in particular his father, who remains part of the wider Downton family and the company expresses its continued condolences.”

This article was updated on 22 February to include comment from Downton Group



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