UK Coal In Court Over Yorkshire Miners Death

30 September 2011, 14:08

The company which runs the North Yorkshire pit where a miner died earlier this week appeared in court today in relation to the death of another worker at the same colliery.

UK Coal appeared at Pontefract Magistrates' Court accused of failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees at Kellingley Colliery.

46 year old Ian Cameron died when equipment fell on him at the North Yorkshire pit in October 2009.

Earlier this week, 49 year old Gerry Gibson died at Kellingley after a roof fall.

His death was the third at the colliery in three years after that of Mr Cameron and miner Don Cook, who died in a rock fall in September 2008.

Doncaster-based UK Coal appeared in court today alongside mining equipment firm Joy Mining Machinery Ltd to face a number of health and safety charges.

The company is accused of failing to ensure that powered roof supports at a coal face at the pit were 'maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair'.

It is also charged with exposing people to health and safety risks at the coal face and not ensuring the health and safety of its employees, including Mr Cameron.

Worcester-based Joy Mining Machinery faces one charge of failing to ensure that people, including UK Coal, were provided with all necessary information about health and safety risks in relation to using the powered roof supports.

The case was adjourned until October 24.

Reading a statement outside court after today's hearing, Andrew Mackintosh, director of communications at UK Coal, said the company was working to improve its safety record.

Mr Mackintosh said:

'UK Coal deeply regrets any incident that occurs in its mines and our sympathies today are with the family, friends and colleagues of Ian Cameron at this difficult time.

'In April this year, the new board and leadership of UK Coal set out its assessment of the performance of UK Coal and its plans for the recovery of this company.

'Top of that recovery plan was the improvement of the company's safety record over the last five years.'

He said the company had invested in new equipment, overhauled working practices and put a stronger emphasis on training.

Mr Mackintosh added:

'Tuesday's tragic accident at Kellingley is a bitter reminder of how important this work is.'

He said UK Coal would publish results of its investigation into the accident as soon as it could.

The company has said initial investigations showed no obvious cause of the roof fall and the firm was, at this stage, 'at a loss' to know why it happened.

Married father-of-two Mr Gibson was described as a highly-skilled and well-respected coalface worker by his employers.

His friend Phil Sheldon was trapped next to him but he was pulled out with only minor injuries.

Kellingley, which is on the border of North and West Yorkshire, is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire.

Its two main shafts are almost 800 metres deep.

It supplies local power stations and produces some household coal.

UK Coal is due to be sentenced in October in a separate prosecution for breaching health and safety regulations in cases relating to the deaths of four miners at pits in the Midlands.

The firm has admitted safety breaches in relation to the deaths of Trevor Steeples, 46, at the Daw Mill colliery, near Coventry, in June 2006; Paul Hunt, who died in August 2006 following another accident at Daw Mill; Anthony Garrigan, who died in January 2007, again at Daw Mill; and Paul Milner, who was fatally injured at Welbeck Colliery, near Mansfield, Notts, in November 2007.

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