A father suffered a “horrific” death after he became trapped inside an industrial oven in which the temperature was 280 degrees.
54 year-old Alan Catterall was trapped inside the oven, while working on it. It was then accidentally turned on; despite his anguished cries for help, nobody heard him.
The ovens are used in the manufacture of plastic kayaks; after he became trapped, Mr Catterall, who was a father-of-two, unsuccessfully attempted to open the oven door with a metal crowbar.
Now the owners of the factory where the accident occurred, Pyranha Mouldings Ltd, is facing charges of corporate manslaughter and the company’s directors and a self-employed engineer are facing charges related to health and safety breaches. The factory is in Runcorn in Cheshire.
Jurors heard arguments from the prosecution at Liverpool Crown Court that: “The circumstances of Mr Catterall’s death are quite horrific. On the morning of the accident a fault had developed in one of the ovens. It was out of service for about an hour whilst maintenance work was carried out. The initial fault was fixed and one of the operators turned the machine back on.
“Tragically, what the operator did not realise was that Mr Catterall was still working inside the oven. The design of the oven was such that the moment it was switched on its power-operated doors shut and automatically locked with metal bolts on the outside. Mr Catterall was trapped within the oven. There was no means of escape and no alarm. The oven is lined with insulation material, and on the noisy factory floor, there was no chance of anyone hearing his cries for help. After a preparation cycle lasting several minutes, the burners were turned on and the oven was raised to operating temperature.
“The evidence indicates that Mr Catterall made efforts to escape using a metal crow bar, but it was to no avail. He suffered severe burns and died as a result of shock. The first anyone knew about the problem was when smoke started seeping out of the oven.”
Mr Catterall’s wife and daughter also worked at Pyranha. The oven designer, Paul Keddie, managing director, Graham Mackereth and technical director, Peter Mackereth, all deny health and safety breaches.