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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Organiser's evidence in Kendal Calling brain injury trial

One of the organisers of the Kendal Calling music festival has given evidence against the specialist responsible for health and safety on the day a man suffered horrific brain injuries when his crane hit an 11,000-volt overhead cable.

Ben Robinson, a director of Kendal Calling Ltd, was the first prosecution witness in the trial of 47-year-old Jason ‘Jake’ Piper and his company Piper Event Services Limited, who have both pleaded not guilty at Carlisle Crown Court to health and safety offences brought by Eden District Council.

Donald Berry, 46, of Radcliffe, near Bury, was maimed when his crane hit the cable while he was manoeuvring a portable building onto the site at Lowther Park in July 2010.

The prosecution says the cable was such a “serious and obvious” risk even an “amateur” could have spotted the danger.

Mr Robinson told the jury he had hired Piper after realising that the event had grown to such an extent that an experienced health and safety professional had to be called in.

He said Kendal Calling had paid Piper Event Services Limited, of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, £3,350 to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment and produce a safety management plan after it was recommended.

After two days’ of planning, which included a detailed look around the festival site, Piper produced a document designed “to identify potential problems, to reduce risk to a manageable level and to enable the event to go ahead safely,” he said. That document stated that “significant hazards have been identified”, Mr Robinson said, so he had no reason to doubt that it was a full professional risk assessment.

Mr Robinson told the court he had wanted to make a few minor amendments to the document, but Piper would not let him.

In an email sent just hours before Mr Berry’s accident, Piper told him he believed he would “lose control” of the operation if he let someone else have any input into it, and he said it would compromise his professional integrity if that were to happen.

The jury has heard that Kendal Calling Ltd has previously pleaded guilty to exposing an employee to risk by failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The trial continues

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