Company could face charges after fatal accident at Sonae in Kirkby

The former Sonae factory in Kirkby Photo: ITV Granada

The company in charge of a factory in Merseyside where two engineers were killed when they were dragged into a conveyor belt could face criminal charges after an inquest found that procedures were not followed.

James Bibby, 25, and Thomas Elmer, 27, died while working on a 150ft (46m) tall silo at the Sonae factory in Kirkby on December 7, 2010.

The deaths of the two engineers were caused by a failure to follow procedures and isolate the machinery the two sub-contractors were working on, an inquest jury at Bootle Town Hall found on Tuesday.

In a narrative verdict the jury said the two men from Rossendale in Lancashire had not been shown how to isolate the conveyor belt from the power supply.

"It is our view that the death of each man was the result of a failure to adopt appropriate procedures," the jury found.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: "We are carrying out a thorough investigation into the deaths of James Bibby and Thomas Elmer and will now carefully consider the inquest's findings before deciding whether it is appropriate to bring criminal charges."

Post-mortem examinations found that both men died from multiple injuries.

The chipboard factory closed in September last year with the loss of 220 jobs following two fires and a number of health and safety related issues.

A spokesman for the company said: "Sonae had a permit to work system in place, which had it been followed would have prevented the tragic accident.

"It will be of little consolation but our thoughts remain with the families of Thomas Elmer and James Bibby."