Page last updated at 09:17 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 10:17 UK

Company fined over miner deaths

Pennyvenie open cast mine
The men died when a tipper truck crushed their Land Rover

Scottish Coal has been fined 400,000 for health and safety breaches over the deaths of two miners in Ayrshire.

It admitted failing to ensure a safe system of working at Pennyvenie open cast mine near Dalmellington.

Colin Ferguson, 37, from Prestwick, and Brian French, 48, from Kelloholm, died there last February when their Land Rover was crushed by a tipper truck.

Scottish Coal issued a statement expressing its "deepest sympathies" for the family and friends of the dead men.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the "entirely preventable" deaths arose from management failures.

Scottish Coal pled guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The fine was imposed after the case was brought before Ayr Sheriff Court.

Passing sentence, Sheriff John Montgomery said the company had been guilty of two failures over the deaths.

These two deaths were entirely preventable and arose from the clear failure of Scottish Coal to provide suitable means of communication between different vehicles on site
Norrie Buchanan
HSE Inspector
"The first is a failure to provide a safe system of work for the movement of vehicles and plant at the site," he said.

"Relatively small vehicles such as the Land Rover in which the two deceased were travelling were not prevented from being operated in close proximity to large vehicles including dump trucks while they were being operated with reduced visual fields thereby creating a risk of collision.

"The second is a failure to provide the operators of all mobile plant with suitable means of communication or other equipment to reduce the risk of collision and injury."

The Scottish Coal statement said: "We expect that the whole circumstances of the tragic accident will now be examined at a fatal accident inquiry.

"We would welcome such an inquiry and will participate fully as we believe that it will be the best possible method of determining how the accident occurred and what lessons can be learned.

Preventable deaths

"Scottish Coal is committed to constantly improving its health and safety standards and will review its procedures and operations in light of the recommendations of the inquiry."

The ruling prompted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to warn about the dangers of poorly managed transport in the workplace.

HSE inspector Norrie Buchanan said: "These two deaths were entirely preventable and arose from the clear failure of Scottish Coal to provide suitable means of communication between different vehicles on site in order to reduce the risk of collisions, as well as a failure to manage vehicles on their site.

"Earth-moving vehicles such as dump trucks or bulldozers have poor visual fields due to their large size.

"It is crucial that additional steps are taken to ensure that the drivers of these dump trucks are aware of other smaller vehicles around them.

"Control measures to reduce the risk are easily available at a minimal cost. Installing an additional camera on the side of the dump truck, fitting a raised roof beacon or other means of improving visibility on the Land Rover could prevent similar incidents in the future."

The HSE said quarrying remained one of the most dangerous industries to work in.

Since 2000 more than 2,700 quarry workers across the UK have been injured, with 21 fatalities.


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The incident has shocked the mining community in Ayrshire



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