York Mill, After the Weaving Ended

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During the 1970's and 80's the mill was used by Magnet Pet foods.

After this E. W. Cartons took the majority of the mill, and Bevlan Office Furniture the remaining.

After E. W. Cartons moved, the mill was demolished, leaving only the front entrance.

In 1999 A LABOURER died after being crushed by a paper baling machine which was in such poor condition that a repairman thought it was derelict, an inquest heard.

Steven Donald, 17, of York Close, Clayton-le-Moors, died after he was trapped under a conveyor belt at recycling firm EW Cartons in Rishton. Machine operator Ian Perkins said that on August 10, 1998, he walked across the company's yard at York Mill, York Street, leaving Mr Donald loading a conveyor belt with cardboard.

He heard Mr Donald scream, ran to the machine and saw Mr Donald was trapped under the belt with only his head, shoulders and chest showing.

Mr Perkins switched off the machine and driver Mark Speak dialled 999 on his mobile phone. The pair cut through the belt but could not free Mr Donald because his chest was trapped under a metal strut.

Firefighters freed him and he was taken to Blackburn Royal Infirmary. Despite operations, he died on August 21 from multiple organ failure as a result of his injuries.

Mr Perkins said the machine had broken down "quite a few times" and that he and Mr Donald had sometimes stepped onto the moving conveyor to remove blockages. He said they had been warned by management that this could get them the sack. He said the machine's rubber conveyor belt, which moved at one foot per second, had been repaired in more than 15 different places. Mr Perkins said only he and Mr Donald knew how to work the machine, which processed up to 100 tons of cardboard each day and converted it into bales. The only training had come from the firm who supplied the machine and there were no written instructions or guidelines.

Company sales director Ian Whalley told the Blackburn hearing he had previously seen Mr Donald running on the machine's conveyor belt.

Health And Safety Executive engineer Brian Milward said the only possible explanation for Mr Donald becoming trapped was that he had stepped on a hole in the belt.

Mr Perkins said it was possible that Mr Donald had slipped onto the belt or that he had stepped onto it to remove a blockage.

Mr Perkins said there had been a previous incident when his foot slipped through a hole in the belt. The incident was recorded and managing director Eric Whalley, who is chairman of Accrington Stanley, later told police he thought steps had been taken to prevent a recurrence.

Brian Foster, of Waste Equipment Ltd of Bamber Bridge, said his company had supplied the second-hand machine in 1996 and that he had pointed out safety deficiencies to management. He said £35,000 repairs were needed but Eric Whalley did not order repairs because he said they were too expensive.

Mr Foster said he later found parts of the machine had been tampered with and safety features had been bypassed.

He said that Mr Perkins seemed "very capable of taking short cuts" and added: "I was very concerned when he showed me some of the things he used to do. I said it was dangerous."

Engineer Eric Shaw said when he had been asked to patch up the conveyor belt by EW Cartons staff in 1997, he initially thought the machine was derelict because of its poor condition.

HSE electrical engineer John Chamberlain said: "The machine was in a dangerous condition. The risk of serious injury to someone operating it was foreseeable. Any maintenance which had been carried out was inadequate."

(Proceeding)

A DECISION not to bring criminal charges in connection with the death of a young labourer who was trapped in a dangerous factory machine is be reviewed.

The move follows the verdict by an inquest jury that he was unlawfully killed.

Coroner Michael Singleton said that Steven Donald, 17, had forfeited his life because adequate safety had not been provided.

Mr Donald, of York Close, Clayton-le-Moors, died after he was trapped in the conveyor belt of a paper baling machine at EW Cartons Ltd, York Street, Rishton, in August 1998. The inquest heard the only explanation for how Mr Donald became trapped was that he had fallen through a hole in the rubber belt. It was not known whether he fell onto the machine or stood on it. Mr Donald died on August 21 in Blackburn Infirmary from multiple organ failure and crush injuries to his chest, abdomen and legs.

Engineering experts told the Blackburn inquest that the baling machine was in a dangerous condition and some safety features had been bypassed or removed.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided in May not to bring criminal charges following an investigation by Lancashire Police, environmental health officers and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

But after the inquest, a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said a meeting was being arranged for tomorrow at which it was hoped the police, Hyndburn Council, the Health and Safety Executive and the CPS would be represented.

"Everything has been arranged for Friday so that we can review the situation in the light of today's verdict," the spokesman said.

The factory where Mr Donald received his fatal injuries is owned by EW Cartons Ltd, whose managing director is Accrington Stanley FC chairman and owner Eric Whalley. Machine operator Ian Perkins, who said only he and Mr Donald knew how to work the machine, said the rubber belt had been patched up more than 15 times. The inquest heard that the company directors, all members of the Whalley family, had not carried out safety checks or provided training themselves. They had instead relied on the company which installed the secondhand machine, Waste Equipment Ltd, of Bamber Bridge.

Acting coroner Michael Singleton told the jurors that, to reach a verdict of unlawfully killing, they would need to be satisfied "beyond reasonable doubt" that either involuntary manslaughter or gross negligence had taken place. He said that if the jury found negligence had occurred, it could have been on the part of EW Cartons Ltd or Brian Foster from Waste Equipment Ltd.

The jury took less than half an hour to return a unanimous verdict of unlawful killing. Mr Singleton said that EW Cartons Ltd had "a duty of care" to ensure Mr Donald had a safe system of work. After the verdict he added: " It is quite clear that the verdict of the jury is that adequate safety was not provided and, as a consequence, Mr Donald forfeited his life.

"Steven Donald was doing honest work for honest pay. He was entitled to have his safety considered as paramount."

After the hearing the dead man's father, Greg Donald, of Fife, Scotland, said: "Justice has been done. It wasn't my son's fault. If the safety aspects of the machine were faulty, the company shouldn't have run the machine."

He added that he would take legal advice and intended to press for a prosecution.

Mr Donald's mother Janette Robertson, formerly of Clayton-le-Moors, was too upset to comment after the verdict. Since her son's death, she has returned to live in Glasgow where her son was born.

John Batty, representing Hyndburn Council, said after the inquest: "In the light of the jury's verdict, the matter will be reviewed and then referred to the CPS. But it would be wrong to speculate on what proceedings may follow."

Mr Batty said that although the jury had decided either that involuntary manslaughter or gross negligence had taken place, the authorities could not know who the jury had considered responsible when reaching its conclusions.

In a police interview read to the inquest, Mr Whalley said Mr Donald had been warned not to stand on the belt. He claimed the accident would not have happened if he had not stood on the machine.

After the verdict Mr Whalley declined to comment.

 

References

Lancashire Telegraph, 20th October 1999