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Hospital trust cleared over crush death

PUBLISHED: 15:48 22 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 11 August 2010

THE NHS hospital trust has been cleared of health and safety breaches after the death of an employee who was crushed underneath an industrial laundry press. Bayunga Meya, 47, was killed when the machine was accidentally turned on as he tried to clear tan

THE NHS hospital trust has been cleared of health and safety breaches after the death of an employee who was crushed underneath an industrial laundry press.

Bayunga Meya, 47, was killed when the machine was accidentally turned on as he tried to clear tangled linen.

Mr Meya, who ran the laundry at King George Hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, had turned the system off in order to free the linen.

But a colleague, who did not know he was there, accidentally switched it back on, Southwark Crown Court heard.

As the machine was restarted he was struck by a heavy metal basket and suffered fatal injuries.

Despite his colleagues pulling him free and rushing him to the nearby Accident and Emergency department, Mr Meya died later the same day on December 1, 2005.

His employers - Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospital NHS Trust - were accused of putting the married father-of-three and his work colleagues at risk by flouting health and safety rules over a period of four years.

But a jury took less than two hours to clear the Trust of four health and safety breaches.

The incident was described as 'a bizarre and tragic one-off accident' by the hospital.

And health chiefs claimed that 'all reasonable steps' had been taken to ensure their employees' safety, and that the death had been 'unforeseeable'.

Defence counsel, Oliver Campbell said: "There are 220 similar systems used in the UK, with several thousand in use worldwide.

"There has been no recorded incident of anything of this kind happening before."

The seven-year-old machine was used to clean up to 200,000 sheets, pillowcases, towels, and gowns from 16 hospitals every week.

The Trust was cleared unanimously of four breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act between April 1, 2001 and December 2, 2005.

Mr Meya had worked for the Trust for 12 years.


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