Pirelli to pay £196k following employee autoclave death

Pirelli has pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in the case related to the September 2012 death of employee George Falder in an autoclave at the company’s Carlisle factory. The tyre maker has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £46,706 in prosecution costs.

Reporting the ruling reached by the Carlisle Crown Court judge Paul Batty QC on 1 May, the Health and Safety Executive noted that the industrial autoclave was five metres long and, although employees occasionally went inside to pick up tyre beads that had fallen during the operating cycle, there was no way to open it from within. Furthermore, Pirelli had no system in place to ensure the autoclave was checked before being switched on.

Falder was trapped in an autoclave for more than two hours on 30 September 2014. During operation, the autoclave would have reached a temperature of up to 145 degrees Celsius and been filled with steam that was piped into it under pressure.

“George Falder’s tragic death has had a devastating impact on his family and friends,” said HSE inspector Michael Griffiths, speaking after the hearing. “His colleague had no way of knowing anyone was inside when he switched on the machine because the company did not have systems in place to stop this from happening.

“Pirelli failed to identify the risk posed by workers entering the autoclave. They should either have prevented access, or made sure that the autoclave was properly checked each time before the door was closed and the operating cycle started,” Griffiths continued. “If either of these policies had been implemented then Mr Falder’s death might have been avoided.”

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