The management at a United Kingdom rotational molding plant are facing criminal charges for the death of a worker who was trapped inside a 280° Celsius oven.
The case dates to Dec. 23, 2010 when Alan Catterall, a father of three at kayak maker Pyranha Mouldings in Runcorn, England, became trapped in the oven when he was trying to fix it.
The 54-year-old became trapped after automatic doors on the oven closed when it was switched on. After 10 minutes inside the oven, he suffered severe burns and died of shock. The accident was only noticed when smoke began seeping out of the oven. Catterall tried to escape using a crowbar, but died when co-workers were unable to hear his cries for help.
Prosecuting attorney Andrew Thomas said a series of health and safety flaws led to the accident.
Catterall's employers are accused of corporate manslaughter, and two directors, brothers Graham and Peter Mackereth, face health and safety offences.
Alongside them at Liverpool crown court is Paul Keddie, 49, a self-employed electrical engineer, of Llangollen, who designed and installed the electrical control systems for the oven. All deny the allegations against them.
A jury heard that the huge oven had been switched off for an hour after a fault developed. After it was fixed, it was switched on by fitter Mark Francis, who was engaged to Catterall's eldest daughter, Sarah. He did not realize his future father-in-law was inside.
Thomas told the court that it was in a new rotational molding oven for making kayaks that the accident occurred.
The oven, described as being the height and width of a Ford Transit van but one and a half times longer, had two doors, but anyone operating the control panel did not have a clear view all the way through the oven. The default position of the doors was to shut automatically to keep the heat in and save fuel.
It was common practice for workers to go in to scrape up plastic, and staff were fearful of being trapped inside, the court heard.
Francis switched on the power after the fault had been fixed. That meant the automatic doors defaulted to their closed position and he then pressed the buttons for the oven to go into its warmup procedure.
Thomas said the defendants claim they discharged all relevant duties in respect of safety of their staff.