Firm admits blame for death of Sunderland dock worker

TRAGIC LOSS ... teenage engineer Jason Burden.
TRAGIC LOSS ... teenage engineer Jason Burden.
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A COMPANY has admitted blame for the tragic death of a teenage worker at a dockyard.

Engineer Jason Burden, 19, died after a piece of metal machinery, weighing almost a tonne, fell on him as he worked at South Docks in Sunderland in December 2011.

Despite colleagues and emergency services frantically trying to help the apprentice engineer at the scene, he was pronounced dead at hospital.

One worker who was there when the tragedy happened told investigators he had been talking to Jason, who was working on a piece of equipment called a thruster, in the moments before the accident.

He said: “I looked away briefly from Jason. I then heard a bang.

“I looked at Jason and the thruster had gone over towards him. It was lying on his left leg and stomach.” The worker said he then desperately tried to free his friend.

Prosecutor Stephen Uttley told the court that Jason, of South Shields, managed to get to his feet despite being badly hurt.

He said: “He was assisted by others and helped to his feet and moved forward, but then collapsed, falling backwards onto the floor.

“All the men there responded in a very quick and prompt fashion.

“They did everything they could to assist Mr Burden.”

CCTV cameras captured what happened, but the footage will not be played in open court.

A post mortem examination showed that Jason, who had worked for the company for four years and had a stack of qualifications, had died from chest and abdominal injuries.

Tyne Slipway and Engineering was charged following and investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, and directors from the firm appeared at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.

Dominic Adamson, representing the company, entered a guilty plea to a charge of failing to discharge a duty on its behalf.

Grieving members of Jason’s family were in the public gallery during yesterday’s hearing.

The company is expected to be sentenced this week.

l The hearing continues.