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Runcorn oven death: Pyranha Mouldings fined £200,000

Alan Catterall Image copyright family
Image caption Alan Catterall was a senior supervisor at Pyranha Mouldings Ltd

A kayak manufacturer has been fined £200,000 after a worker became trapped and died in an industrial oven.

Alan Catterall, 54, tried to escape using a crowbar but suffered severe burns at the Pyranha Mouldings factory in Runcorn, Cheshire, in 2010. He died of shock.

The company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter and two health and safety breaches in January.

At London's High Court, a managing director was also fined £25,000.

During the five-week trial, held at Liverpool Crown Court, the jury heard the father of three had gone inside the oven to scrape up dripped plastic.

Another worker, who was due to marry Mr Catterall's daughter, turned the oven on without realising he had gone inside.

The design meant the moment it was switched on, the doors automatically shut and locked to save energy, the court heard.

A few minutes later, smoke was seen coming from the oven and when operators opened the door they discovered Mr Catterall's body.

Image copyright Cheshire Police
Image caption There had been no escape hatch fitted to the oven prior to Alan Catterall's death

Mr Catterall, a senior supervisor at the company, had worked there for 12 years.

Peter Mackereth, 60, managing director, was convicted of health and safety breaches and given a prison sentence of nine months, suspended for two years.

'Fundamentally unsafe'

Delivering his sentence, Mr Justice MacDuff said Mackereth, from Llangollen, Wales, oversaw the design and commissioning of the oven.

"You don't need me to tell you how far short of your duty you fell," said the judge.

"'It was repeatedly brought home to you in the trial. You will have to live with the consequences of your actions for the rest of your life."

Mr Catterall, the judge said, was "by all accounts the most lovely of men" and "devoted to his family".

Mr MacDuff continued: "At least [the family] are able to understand that their loss was not caused by a deliberate unlawful act; rather it was a result of oversight, negligence, [and] sins of omission."

An escape hatch has been fitted to the oven since the accident.

Martin Heywood, from the Health and Safety Executive, said: "Alan Catterall tragically lost his life because the way in which maintenance work was carried out on the moulding ovens at the factory was fundamentally unsafe.

"If Pyranha Mouldings and the individual prosecuted over Alan′s death had properly considered the risks to employees when they designed, installed and operated the ovens then he would still be here today."

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