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Firms fined £410,000 over Kirkby Sonae factory deaths

Sonae in Kirkby Image copyright Google
Image caption The men were carrying out repairs at the Kirkby factory when the conveyor belt started up

Two firms have been fined £410,000 after the deaths of two workers who were dragged into a conveyor belt.

James Bibby and Thomas Elmer, from Lancashire, died at the Sonae chipboard factory in Merseyside in 2010.

A 2013 inquest concluded their deaths were caused by a failure to follow procedures and highlighted a lack of training on how to use the equipment.

Sonae Industria and Valmet Ltd were fined £220,000 and £190,000 respectively.

They were also ordered to pay £107,000 each to cover prosecution costs.

Factory closure

The 2013 inquest found the two sub-contractors, who lived in Rossendale, had not been shown how to isolate the conveyor belt from the power supply.

The men were carrying out repairs at the Kirkby factory when the conveyor belt started up and they were dragged into the machinery.

Image caption Thomas Elmer (left) and James Bibby are believed to have been dragged into a silo

The belt was triggered automatically as factory machinery started to dump wood chips into a silo.

A post-mortem examination found both men died from several injuries.

The site, which opened in 2000, was badly damaged by a large fire in August 2011 in which a demolition worker - James Dennis Kay, 62, from Heywood, Greater Manchester - died.

The plant was affected by a second fire in January 2012 and it closed later that year with the loss of 220 jobs.

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