Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 19:08 UK

Haulier fined over fitter death

Welding torch
The company has changed its policy on the use of welding torches

A haulage company has been fined £75,000 over health and safety failings which resulted in the death of a 23-year-old fitter in March 2008.

Brooks Gilmore was killed when a tyre exploded at Montgomery Transport's Mallusk premises. He had been using a welding torch during wheel cleaning.

Belfast Crown Court heard the firm, which pleaded guilty, has since changed its approach to health and safety.

Judge Tom Burgess said it was clear it "should never have been permitted".

He said Mr Gilmore's death has had "devastating consequences" for his family, friends and work colleagues.

Montgomery Transport, based at Antrim Road, Newtownabbey, admitted failure to make appropriate risk assessments and to maintain safe working practices.

The court was told Mr Gilmore and a 17-year-old apprentice had been cleaning steel wheel trims from trailers.

'Tragic incident'

As part of the work, they were using an oxy-acetylene torch to burn off residual moisture from the tyres which were still attached to the trailers and fully inflated.

Prosecution lawyer Michael Chambers said the heat from the torch caused one tyre to explode, flinging Mr Gilmore backwards in the office chair he was sitting on.

He landed on a concrete floor and died almost instantly from his injuries.

Mr Chambers told the court that as far back as 1991, there was Health and Safety Executive documentation stating that "oxy-acetylene cutting and welding or any hot work should never be carried out when the tyre is on the wheel".

He added that it was apparent that "no-one in Montgomery Transport Ltd had ever seen any of these documents".

Defence QC Frank O'Donoghue told the court that Montgomery Transport had overhauled its approach to health and safety issues. He said Mr Gilmore's death was still felt and mourned by everyone who works for the firm.

"This was a truly tragic incident which, regrettably, was avoidable," he said.

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