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Wednesday, 18 July, 2001, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Bakery fined for employees' oven deaths
Harvestime Bakeries
The two men were carrying out maintenance work
A bakery company and three company directors have been fined 373,000 after two workers died inside a bread oven.

The men were carrying out maintenance work when they became trapped inside the machine where temperatures were above 100C.

They died from burns and heat exposure after being unable to escape.

Fresha Bakeries, trading as Harvestime Bakeries had admitted breaching health and safety regulations.

They were trapped. There was no system of reversing the conveyor and no system of getting them out of the oven

Anthony Barker QC
David Mayes, 47, of Rushey Mead, Leicester, and Ian Erickson, 43, an engineer from Walsall, West Midlands, died after maintenance on the bread oven went wrong at Harvestime's plant in Thurmaston Boulevard, Leicester in May 1998.

The men were sent into the oven only two hours after it had been switched off.

They climbed in through the bottom and onto a conveyor used to take the dough through the giant machine.

All they were wearing for protection were all-in-one suits.

Anthony Barker QC, prosecuting, said: "The oven was normally set to run at 260C. It had only been turned off for two hours and the centre was 100C when these two men went inside.

David Mayes
David Mayes suffered 80% burns
"No-one, it seemed, looked at the temperature gauge at the side of the oven which would have indicated it wasn't safe to go in."

Mr Erickson, had taken a radio with him and after a few minutes inside sent a panicky message saying it was too hot.

"They were trapped. There was no system of reversing the conveyor and no system of getting them out of the oven," said Mr Barker.

It took 17 minutes - the time it took for the conveyor to pass through the oven - before other workers could help the men.

Mr Erickson was brought out in "a state of collapse" and had extensive burns.

Mr Mayes was trapped inside the oven and had to be freed by the fire service.

He had 80% burns to his body and died at the scene.

Admitted responsibility

John Bridson, 54, of Hale, the managing director of Fresha Limited, the company which owns the bakery, admitted two charges of failing to provide a safe system of work.

The production director, Brian Jones, 60, of Hertford, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to a single count of the same offence.

The chief engineer, Dennis Masters, 45, of Mountsorrel, admitted one charge of failing to take reasonable care for others at work.

Fresha Bakeries were fined a total of 250,000 and ordered to pay costs of 175,000.

Joint investigation

The firm's owners, Harvestime Ltd, of Walsall, West Midlands, was fined a total of 100,000 and made to pay costs of 75,000.

Mr Bridson was fined 20,000 and ordered to pay costs of 5,000.

Mr Jones was fined 1,000 and Mr Masters 2,000 because of their financial means.

They also escaped having to pay costs.

The prosecution followed a joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and Leicestershire Police.

See also:

16 Jul 01 | UK
Oven deaths sentencing due
27 Apr 01 | Business
Accidents at work rise
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