Widow’s relief at pit’s prosecution

THE widow of a Wellow miner killed by falling pipes at Thoresby Colliery has spoken of her relief at the mine’s owner being successfully prosecuted.

UK Coal Mining Ltd was ordered to pay £300,000 in fines and costs after a court heard how the company failed to improve safety despite being warned by employees of the dangers .

Experienced locomotive driver John Harbron (47) was working underground with colleagues when the fatal incident occurred on 24th July 2009.

He was preparing to unload a pack of 40 steel pipes from a rail-borne car but when he cut plastic bands securing them in place they rolled sideways, fell off the car and landed on top of him.

Father-of-two Mr Harbron suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene despite colleagues’ efforts to release him.

The court heard there had been at least four written reports by locomotive drivers of pipe packs becoming unstable while being made ready for manual unloading some 18 months before Mr Harbron was killed.

But managers failed to read all the reports or act on drivers’ concerns.

Mr Harbron’s widow, Sharon Lewis, told the Chad: “We have said all along that it took John’s death to highlight the problems.”

The mother of John’s two daughters said she was annoyed that the company was unable to pay what was owed due its ceasing to trade.

She added: “What has happened has happened. We cannot bring him back so health and safety is a priority for me.

“I would hate to think of someone else’s kids going through what we have been through.”

Speaking after the Nottingham Crown Court hearing, HSE inspector Peter McGuinness said: “Since the incident the company has changed the design and shape of pipe packs, the design of the packaging and the type of cars being used.

“Improvements have also been made to the reporting of near misses and the handling of reports from workmen.”

Sharon said she was satisfied the company had been reprimanded but it was just unfortunate her late husband had to sacrifice his life.

“There was always something left to do but now we have closure,” she added.