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Firm fined after bulldozer crashes in Thames killing driver

PUBLISHED: 13:00 12 October 2009 | UPDATED: 15:01 05 October 2010

THE huge Tate and Lyle sugar refinery in East London has been fined £270,000 following a freak accident in which a contractor was killed on one of its ships in the Thames. Keith Webb, 53, drowned when his bulldozer crashed into the river while unloading raw sugar at Silvertown

By Mike Brooke

THE huge Tate and Lyle sugar refinery in East London has been fined £270,000 following a freak accident in which a contractor was killed on one of its ships in the Thames.

Keith Webb, 53, drowned when his bulldozer crashed into the river while unloading raw sugar from a vessel at the company's riverside wharf in Silvertown.

The company, which was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive, pleaded guilty to breaching the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

It was also slapped with an additional £90,000 in legal costs when it appeared at Southwark crown court last week for failings that led to Mr Webb's death in 2004.

Mr Webb was in the bulldozer when it fell from a crane as it was being lowered into the hold of a ship. The lug connecting the lifting chain to the crane snapped, sending the bulldozer crashing into the vessel and toppling into the water.

Mr Webb's widow Avril, who was present in court, said: "Keith was ripped from my life, from our family's lives.

"I'm still trying to fill the huge void left by his death, still trying to pick up the threads of a life that I can no longer enjoy."

Mr Webb left a widow, two grown up children and two grandchildren, one of whom he was never able to meet. A post-mortem at the time established cause of death as drowning.

The HSE's investigation found failures in Tate and Lyle's management at the dock, the court heard, which included not providing and managing proper means of access to the ships being unloaded.

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