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Skip hire death man was 'trying to unblock machine with shovel'

PUBLISHED: 17:20 14 March 2019

Robert Baldwin, Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Archant

Robert Baldwin, Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Archant

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A jury has been told an accident at a Norfolk firm where a worker lost his life after becoming trapped in machinery could have been avoided.

James Criddle, who died in an industrial incident in Besthorpe. Picture courtesy of Kevin Copplestone.James Criddle, who died in an industrial incident in Besthorpe. Picture courtesy of Kevin Copplestone.

James Criddle, 29, from Watton, was working at Baldwin Skip Hire in Besthorpe on May 15 2017 when he was killed while using waste-screening machinery which had only just been bought for £18,000 on eBay.

Norwich Crown Court has heard the machine was not fitted with a safety guard.

Giving evidence on Thursday (March 14) David Rudland, a specialist inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said a lot of material had collected at the side of the machine.

He said it was likely that Mr Criddle was “trying to unblock the machine with a shovel”.

Mr Rudland said the machine was not fitted with safety guards.

He said the area Mr Criddle went to unblock “should’ve been guarded to prevent access to the dangerous moving parts”.

He told Julia Faure Walker, prosecuting, that “In my view if these had been in place the accident could have been prevented.”

In conclusion, Mr Rudland said that “many areas of the machine were not guarded so as to allow access to dangerous moving parts”.

He said that while guards might have been fitted in the past he saw no evidence of any guards on site.

He said the site of the accident posed a “serious risk of entanglement

Robert Baldwin, 47, of Silver Street, Besthorpe, has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Criddle by gross negligence and a charge involving neglect in failing to discharge a duty.

He took to the stand on Thursday afternoon to start his defence, telling his barrister, Mathew Gowen, that he started the company when he was in his 20s with just one lorry and 30 skips.

The court has heard the prosecution assert that, as managing director, Baldwin failed in his duty of care towards Mr Criddle and was “grossly” negligent.

The jury has been told Baldwin Skip Hire has already pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety duties to an employee.

The trial continues.

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