A young dad lost his life when he was crushed by a huge magnet as a result of his employer’s health and safety failings.
Martin Kane’s son will grow up without his “popular, conscientious and capable” father after Enva Scotland Limited’s negligence had tragic consequences.
His “entirely preventable” death, which left “everyone devastated” was caused when he was struck by a magnet which weighed over a tonne.
The details emerged this week when a court hearing against Enva Scotland Limited, which was formerly known as William Tracey Limited, took place at Paisley Sheriff Court over the incident on March 28, 2018.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen members of the public barred from court hearings in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
But Mr Kane’s mother and aunt were allowed in to court for the hearing, after being granted permission by the judge presiding over the case.
And they were overcome with emotion as his tragic final moments were described to the court as Enva admitted its role in his death.
He and a colleague were ensuring the machine, which had been hired by his employer, was spotless ahead of being returned to the firm that owned it.
But they had not been trained on how to clean the machine properly, and Mr Kane was killed by a magnet he was trying to remove from the top of the vehicle on March 28, 2018.
The firm pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing “to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work” of its employees, in breach of Section 2(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The charge stated the firm “did fail to ensure that all persons engaged in the tasks of cleaning and using a Terex TDS 820 tracked mobile shredder had received adequate training, information and instruction on the deployment of an overhead magnet fitted to” the machine, leading to Mr Kane’s death.
While cleaning the 38ft long and 13ft tall machine, Mr Kane and his colleague tried to dislodge waste that had become trapped in the machine.
They also started trying to take the magnet off, and managed to remove one of the two pins holding it in place by hand.
Procurator Fiscal Depute Willie Duffy explained: “He needed a hammer and went to get one.
“He asked a colleague to borrow his hammer ‘for two seconds, to remove a last pin’.
“His colleague heard what he describes as a bang and by that time the now deceased was on his back, it appeared he’d been hit by the magnet.
“There was no sign of movement and his hard hat was covering his face.”
While hitting the final pint out with the hammer, the magnet had fallen and landed on Mr Kane, trapping him underneath.
He had a strong pulse but was not breathing and remained unresponsive and an ambulance was called for.
He was pronounced a short time later, and a post mortem recorded the cause of death as “head injury due to industrial accident.”
Mr Duffy, prosecuting, said: “The company did not hold the manual for the machine.
“This led to Mr Kane adopting an unsafe system of work.
“These circumstances were entirely preventable.”
Barry Smith QC, representing Enva Scotland Limited, said: “They wish me on their behalf to formally record their regret that this accident resulted in such tragic consequences.
“He was a well liked and well regarded colleague.
“He was a safety-conscious individual and would not take risks with himself or his colleagues’ safety.”
He said that “safety, sustainability and environmental responsibility” were key to the success of the business, and that there had been “lessons learned” by the award-winning firm.
As he deferred sentencing on the firm until later this month, Sheriff Colin Pettigrew said: “These are tragic circumstances I’ve been asked to consider today – this is the loss of a young man’s life.
“Nothing this court does can unfortunately bring back Mr Kane.
“A little boy is going to grow up without his dad.
“I have to consider what is the breach of duty of the employer here.
“I want to reflect upon it.
“This would be a case where rushing to judgement would be inappropriate – not just for the company, but also for the family who clearly have an interest in the outcome.”
A spokesman for Enva said: “This matter is subject to an ongoing legal process and therefore it would be inappropriate to make any further comment at this time.”