A FORMER company director has been jailed after a machine trapped and crushed to death a new employee.

Michael Hall, 66, of Hullen Edge Lane, Elland, who was running Deco-Pak at the time of the death, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and failing to discharge the employer's general duty after a re-trial which began in March and ended in April.

Andrew Tibbot, who was aged 48 and had only been working for the Hipperholme-based company - which describes itself as a garden landscaping specialist and decorative aggregates supplier - as a maintenance engineer for just under six weeks, was found dead at the firm's site with catastrophic crush injuries on Good Friday in 2017 (April 17).

The 48-year-old had been working alone on a powerful machine that had a robotic arm used to move gravel, stone, and other materials into bags for transportation.

The machine had inadequate safety measures in place at the time and Mr Tibbot became trapped in it.

Hall was sentenced to five years behind bars yesterday at Leeds Crown Court.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Michael Hall, 66, of Hullen Edge Lane, EllandMichael Hall, 66, of Hullen Edge Lane, Elland (Image: West Yorkshire Police)

Deco-Pak Limited was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay £90,000 in court costs.

The company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter and failing to discharge the employer's general duty, after a trial at Bradford Crown Court in January 2022.

But the jury was unable to reach a verdict regarding Hall and a re-trial was called for.

Hall had already been charged and pleaded guilty to failing to discharge the employer's general duty at the start of the first trial.

The conviction has come after an extensive investigation by West Yorkshire Police, supported throughout by HSE (Health and Safety Executive).

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Andrew Tibbot, who died aged 48 after being crushed by a powerful machine at a Deco-Pak siteAndrew Tibbot, who died aged 48 after being crushed by a powerful machine at a Deco-Pak site (Image: West Yorkshire Police)

Concerns were first raised about Mr Tibbot when he failed to return home after work on Good Friday in 2017.

His family went to his workplace to try find him and discovered him badly injured at the Deco-Pak site.

They called the ambulance service for assistance and paramedics rushed to the scene but Mr Tibbott died of his injuries.

A number of safety measures were in place when the machinery was first installed, it was heard in the case.

This included safety fencing and a system designed to disable the machine if anyone was to step inside the designated production area, causing it to automatically shut down.

But the court heard that the safety fencing was later removed to allow for unrestricted access to the machine for cleaning and maintenance, while in operation.

A gate was installed around the machine without an adequate interlock mechanism and light barriers to sense movement in the restricted area were also in place but were found to be not working.

The company who had supplied Deco-Pak with the machinery had repeatedly warned management of the risks of danger these machines presented.

The company director had received a report two months before Mr Tibbot's death highlighting the serious safety issues concerning the machinery.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The Deco-Pak site in Halifax Road, HipperholmeThe Deco-Pak site in Halifax Road, Hipperholme (Image: Google Street View)

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Superintendent Nicola Bryar said: "No family should go through what Andrew’s family did on that fateful evening in 2017.

"Our thoughts are with them and I would like to thank them for their maintained dignity throughout this lengthy investigation.

“I do hope they can take some comfort from the sentences imposed today, and the fact that those responsible for Andrew’s tragic death have been held accountable for their gross negligence and failures.

“The failure to have adequate safety measures in place showed a complete disregard for the health and safety of those working at the firm which sadly resulted in Andrew losing his life.

"The company chose to ignore Health and Safety regulations which should have been in place whilst machinery was in operation and ignored repeated warnings about the dangers posed to employees.

“I hope this case highlights the importance that all firms and businesses must take their responsibilities seriously, they have an obligation to ensure their sites and places of work are fully equipped with all adequate safety measures, to ensure the safety of all of their employees.

“Failing to adhere to this legislation is a criminal offence and one which can have tragic consequences.”

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, Jacqueline Ferguson said: "Mr Tibbot’s death was wholly avoidable and arose as a direct consequence of a systemic failure within the company to ensure employees’ health and safety at work was protected and that they were not exposed to the risk of serious injury and death.

"There was a complete failure at management level to appreciate the need to proactively manage health and safety and a failure to react to incidents, injuries and reports of conditions that posed a serious risk to the health and safety of employees and others.

"Our thoughts remain with Mr Tibbot’s family.”