UK Coal fined over Kellingley colliery miner’s death

Gerry Gibson's wife Brenda and son Sean outside Leeds Crown Court.
Gerry Gibson's wife Brenda and son Sean outside Leeds Crown Court.
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UK Coal has today been sentenced after admitting a number of serious safety failings that led to the death of a miner.

Father-of-two Gerry Gibson, from Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire, was killed when 15 tonnes of rock forming a section of roof collapsed as a powered roof support was being used.

The incident, which took place on September 27 2011 at Kellingley colliery, happened just six days after a similar roof fall in the mine with the same support in operation.

The company, now in administration, was fined £200,000 after admitting health and safety failings in relation to Mr Gibson’s death.

They were also fined £50,000 in relation to a underground pit explosion that took place in November 2010 that lead to 200 miners being evacuated.

Speaking after the hearing at Leeds Crown Court, Mr Gibson’s widow Brenda said: “Throughout Gerry’s career, he progressed in the world of mining, working in different areas and expanding his knowledge and experience.

“For 25 years, he was my best friend, my soulmate and the father of my two wonderful boys.

“He leaves behind treasured memories with so many people he has touched in his life, and me with an enormous, irreplaceable hole in my life and my heart.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that UK Coal managers were fully aware of the earlier roof fall but no investigation into it was carried out.

A second miner, Philip Sheldon, was released after being trapped toward the edge of the collapse and allowed home after hospital treatment.

HSE mines inspector John Whyatt said: “Gerry Gibson and the men working alongside him were oblivious to the extent of the dangers posed when working near to that particular roof support.

“They had no reason to believe there were at risk from the roadway roof collapsing as it was being operated.

“This was a tragic and preventable incident that demonstrates the importance of employers having effective and robust safety management systems. Strong safety leadership is of paramount importance in incident prevention.”