embargoed until 25th January 2012 ( Back to news releases)
HSE case against J.N. Bentley, Newton Hearing, Bradford Crown Court 25th to 27th January 2012
FACK hopes Judith Allen will get justice at last for her son, Steven Allen,
Steven Allen was working for J.N. Bentley’s on a construction site in Bradford when he was killed by a block grab being used to lift an uneven load of cement bags on a wooden pallet, a purpose for which it was not designed and which the manual specifically prohibited. The load fell and Steven was fatally injured by the jaws of the grab.
The inquest into Steven’s death at Bradford Coroner’s Court, 2nd to 4th February 2009 gave a verdict of ‘Accidental Death and the accident happened because of failure to provide a safe system, no-one was trained, there was no banskman and the system was unsafe’.
Steven’s employer, J.N. Bentley of Skipton, has pleaded guilty to breaches under the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees. A Newton Hearing, being held from 25th To 27th January, is for a judge to determine the extent to which J.N.Bentley’s are to blame for Steven’s death.
Judith Allen, Steven’s mother, who has fought tirelessly to find out why her son was killed, and to ensure that those responsible are held to account says:
“It has taken almost 5 years to even think we could get some kind of justice for what happened to Steven. At the beginning I was very naive and believed what I was told, and only through searching myself and with others help, have I gained an insight into what actually happened that fateful day. Whatever happens in court I know how unsafe working conditions led directly to my son’s death, and the ripple effect it has had on the lives of my family and the lives of his friends. Steven’s death continues to affect us all severely. Whatever fines are imposed it does not alter the fact that I have had my son taken from me before he had chance to grow into the fine young man I know he would have become. This may be the end as far as prosecutions go, but our lives are blighted forever. The only consolation will be if it stops something like this happening again on another construction site to another mother’s son, and if it makes workers and the public far more aware than I was before Steven died, of the risks employers take with workers’ lives in trying to save money.”
Spokesperson for FACK says: “Employers are under a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees so far as is reasonably practicable which includes selecting and using the right equipment for the job, training workers, establishing safe systems, monitoring and supervising. All workers and their families should be able to rely on their employers complying with the law and reading relevant manuals for equipment, but Steven’s death shows this is not something that workers can take for granted. As in the vast majority of incidents that kill a worker, none of the very basic, reasonably practicable measures were in place, and Steven’s death would have been prevented if a block grab was not being used for a purpose the manual prohibited. Steven’s employer must be held accountable and penalised in a way that provides some justice to Steven’s family, and also acts as a deterrent to other employers, so no worker is killed in such an utterly preventable workplace incident.”
For more information contact Judith Allen Mobile 077582 22356 or
The manual for the PROBST SG80 grab stated that it is for use on un-palletised loads, and apart from lifting solid, evenly balanced loads such as packs of blocks or paving slabs, other use is prohibited due to the risk of injury.
FACK was set up to support families such as Steven Allen’s and to campaign to prevent more workplace deaths in July 2006 see the FACK website
FACK has produced a DVD called ‘Face the FACKS: the human face of workplace killing’ as part of our campaign to stop workplace deaths: Further info