Tyne & Wear

Apprentice Jason Burden crush death: Sunderland firm fined £75,000

A firm has admitted breaching health and safety guidelines after an apprentice was crushed to death by machinery weighing almost a tonne.

Jason Burden, 19, from South Shields, was killed when a 970kg (150 stone) ship's tunnel thruster landed on him at Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd (TSECL) at South Dock in Sunderland.

Mr Burden was an apprentice engineer.

The firm were fined £75,000 and ordered to pay almost £48,000 in costs at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard that Mr Burden was reassembling the machine on a work bench on 8 December 2011 when it toppled on to his torso and left leg, causing fatal injuries.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found that although TSECL was aware that the tunnel thruster, a gearbox and propeller used to manoeuvre a ship, was only notionally stable, it did not take sufficient steps to ensure it was safe to work on or near.

It concluded the incident could have been prevented had the tunnel thruster been securely strapped or bolted to supports fixed to the workbench.

Following sentencing, Jason's father, Trevor Burden, said his son was "the most loving, caring, hardworking and funny lad that you could ever wish to meet".

"His death has left a huge hole in all our lives. We are all heartbroken and the pain is unbearable."

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