Crush death firm admits breach

William Aveyard who died in accident at Bezier
William Aveyard who died in accident at Bezier

A PRINTING firm has admitted its guilt after an employee was crushed to death.

Bezier yesterday admitted breaching Health and Safety rules in relation to the death of Willam Aveyard, 49, at its Balne Lane site in May 2008.

The company was in the dock at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court where it pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, including Mr Aveyard, were protected from the risk of crushing injuries while operating the Avocet Crosland hand-fed platen machine.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecutor Alun Williams told the court how Mr Aveyard had been working on the machine, which is used for printing cardboard and logos, at 9pm on May 8, nearly four years ago.

It’s thought the machine got stuck with card and Mr Aveyard climbed onto it to clear the misfeed but was crushed. He said a risk assessment carried out, which required an action plan being produced to ensure there was a written safe system of working, sadly wasn’t in place at the time of the accident.

Mr Williams said: “This failure by the company resulted in Mr Aveyard’s death.”

He said the case was not suitable for sentencing in the magistrates’ and needed to be done at crown court.

He added magistrates could only impose a maximum fine of £20,000. Mr Williams said Bezier had a turn over of £67m and net assets of £23m.

Sentencing guidelines also suggest that fines in death cases will seldom be less than £100,000 and more likely will be measured in hundreds of thousands.

Kevin Elliott, mitigating, said the company had an “impeccable record” and had taken immediate steps so that this type of accident couldn’t happen again.

Sentencing is expected to take place next month at Leeds Crown Court.

After the case a spokeswoman for Bezier told the Wakefield Express: “The thoughts of the new team within Bezier continue to be with Bill’s family at this difficult time.

“Bezier has worked closely with the HSE on its investigation.”