A COMPANY repeatedly ignored advice from safety consultants before an employee was killed while cleaning out a blending machine, a court heard.

Radcliffe-based Building Chemical Research Ltd was yesterday fined £16,000 for breaches of health and safety legislation and its technical director Stuart Reich was fined £4,000.

Kevin Donnelly, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, told Bolton Crown Court for five years before the death of 42-year-old former soldier Paul Palmer the company had employed safety consultants Mentor.

But bosses had failed to implement the firm’s advice to carry out risk assessments, train employees on safety procedures and implement a planned system of maintenance, the court heard. BCR Ltd makes paints and resins for the building industry and Mr Donnelly told the court on the day he died in August 2005, Mr Palmer, of Bolton Road, Radcliffe, had climbed into a blending machine to clear out residue. The machine was designed so it should not operate if the hatch lid was open but it was defective and a switch isolating the power supply had not been turned off.

“It would seem while he was in the chamber cleaning out the residue another employee inadvertently pressed the start button,”

said Mr Donnelly.

Mr Palmer suffered horrendous injuries, dying before he could be released by the emergency services.

Health and safety inspectors visiting the scene the next day found other machines with faults and issued a prohibition notice, with the factory remaining closed for six weeks until repairs were carried out.

“Had the company carried out risk assessments the accident would have been avoided,” said Mr Donnelly.

The firm pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and Reich, aged 63, of Hesketh Bank, Southport, pleaded guilty to a similar charge.

Mark Turner QC, defending, said the company, which has 25 employees, was struggling in the current financial climate.

He stressed Mr Reich had not been made aware of any safety concerns regarding the blending machine.

Judge William Morris said the £16,000 fine he was imposing on the firm would have been much higher had it been in a better financial position. As well as the fines the company was ordered to pay £8,000 costs and Reich was ordered to pay £2,000 towards costs.

Mr Palmer’s brother, Ted Palmer, said: “It seems wrong that he survived the army and then was killed by a factory machine.”