‘You will never be forgiven’ – dad after firm fined £75,000 over Sunderland dock worker’s death

JASON BURDEN ... suffered fatal crush injuries in a dockyard accident.
JASON BURDEN ... suffered fatal crush injuries in a dockyard accident.
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A GRIEVING dad told directors “you will never be forgiven” as their firm was fined £75,000 over his son’s tragic death.

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

The 19-year-old was pronounced dead at hospital, despite colleagues and emergency services desperately trying to help him at the scene.

Jason, who was an apprentice engineer for Tyne Slipway and Engineering, was working on a piece of equipment called a thruster, when the tragedy happened.

At Newcastle Crown Court his father Trevor Burden told Judge James Goss QC, from the public gallery, that Tyne Slipway and Engineering would “never be forgiven” by his family for their actions.

Prosecutor Stephen Uttley: “They were very proud of him, describing him as the perfect son achieving high standards academically.

“Every day is a struggle for his family. It is only love from his wife and children that keeps Mr Burden, Jason’s father, going.”

Directors from the firm were in court to hear details of the family’s profound grief first hand.

Judge James Goss QC fined the company £75,000 for the health and safety breach and ordered it to pay £47,936 costs.

The judge said: “The fine I impose on the defendant is not and cannot be any reflection of the value of the young life of Jason Burden which was so tragically lost as a result of health and safety shortcomings.”

The judge said there had been no risk assessment carried out for the heavy task Jason, of South Shields, was carrying out and he was unsupervised and uninstructed.

Dominic Adamson, defending the family-run company, entered a guilty plea to a charge of failing to discharge a duty under Health and Safety legislation on its behalf.

In a statement read out by Mr Adamson, Harry Wilson, managing director of Tyne Slipway and Engineering said: “Jason was a well liked and highly regarded member of the company who remains sorely missed by all who worked with him.”

After the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Paul Miller said: “Jason Burden was a talented and hardworking young man. His death could easily have been avoided if his employer had properly considered the risks associated with the repair of the tunnel thruster and then ensured that steps were taken to guarantee the stability of the tunnel thruster while on the work bench.

“The risks associated with the maintenance of machinery must be assessed before work starts, and must take into account forces applied to the machine in order to ensure that appropriate control measures are used to guarantee the stability of the machine.”