Engineer crushed to death by robotic arm found by son after not coming home

A man was found crushed to death by a robotic arm just six weeks into his new job working at a garden landscaping supplies firm, a court heard.

Andrew Tibbott, 48 at the time, was a maintenance engineer at Deco-Pak Limited in Hipperholme near Halifax.

The married father-of-two was discovered dead under the machine after his concerned family went to the premises when he didn't return home from work. He was found by his son.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that Mr Tibbott was one of the last employees still at work on April 14, 2017, reports Yorkshire Live.

Prosecutor Allan Compton QC said that, despite paramedics rushing to the scene, Mr Tibbott died from crush injuries to his chest.

Mr Tibbott, believed to be from Huddersfield, had entered the “cell” around the robotic arm to clean a sensor.

Mr Compton alleged that “within days” of the machine's installation in April 2015 the company and senior management had caused essential safety features to be bypassed or disabled.

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He added that repeated warnings about the dangers had been ignored and Mr Tibbott’s “wholly avoidable” death was the result of systematic failure.

The court heard that the robotic arm could move at seven metres per second.

Deco-Pak Limited has denied a charge of corporate manslaughter although it has already pleaded guilty to breaching its general duty to employees under health and safety regulations.

Managing director Michael Hall, 64 and from Elland near Halifax, also admitted to the health and safety breach but denies a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Another director Rodney Slater, 62 and from Rochdale, has denied the same manslaughter allegation and the health and safety breach offence.

Mr Compton also said that two other workers had been struck by robotic arms and one had left the firm as a result. The worker had described the conditions as “lethal”.

Mr Compton alleged that, after the installation of the automated machinery which fatally injured Mr Tibbott, Deco-Pak failed to carry out a risk assessment for its use, or assess how the risk would increase as safety measures were bypassed or disabled.

The trial continues and is expected to last about six weeks.

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