Family’s appeal over ‘needless’ workplace deaths

SAFETY FIGHT... Trevor and Maria Burden, with a picture of their son Jason, who died at just 19 in a workplace accident.
SAFETY FIGHT... Trevor and Maria Burden, with a picture of their son Jason, who died at just 19 in a workplace accident.

THE FAMILY of a South Tyneside teenager tragically killed in a workplace accident have made a safety plea to employers to prevent more ‘needless deaths’.

Jason Burden, 19, died when metal machinery weighing almost a tonne fell on him while he was working at South Docks in Sunderland in December 2011.

The apprentice engineer, from Fox Avenue, South Shields, suffered fatal injuries, despite colleagues and emergency services desperately trying to save his life.

Now family members will attend a Workers’ Memorial event in Hartlepool on Monday to commemorate his death, and call for the bosses and the Government to ensure sufficient health and safety measures are in place. His employers, Tyne Slipway and Engineering, were fined £75,000 and ordered to pay court costs of £47,936 at Newcastle Crown Court in January, after having pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to discharge a duty under Health and Safety legislation.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into Jason’s death, which concluded in January, found that Tyne Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd had failed to take sufficient steps to ensure Jason’s safety.

Jason’s family will be joined at the event at Christ Church in Hartlepool by their solicitors Thompsons, trade unionists, accident victims and other families of those killed in workplace accidents and industrial diseases in order to “mourn for the dead but fight for the living”.

Jason left behind his family and girlfriend, Rachel, who will also attend the Workers’ Memorial Day event.

As well as being a promising engineer, Jason, who went to Lord Blyton Primary School in Wenlock Road, South Shields, and South Shields Community School, in Nevinson Avenue, was a keen footballer, who turned out in goal for FC Simonside.

His father, Trevor, will call for employers and the Government to make health and safety a top priority in the workplace.

Mr Burden said: “Jason was the perfect son in every way. He was hard-working, intelligent and dedicated, and he was just six months shy of completing his BTEC qualification. We couldn’t have been more proud.

“Jason really was the most loving, caring and funny lad anybody could ever wish to meet.

“He had so much going for him, and it was all taken away from him in one terrible and totally avoidable moment.

“Workers’ Memorial Day is an annual event worldwide when we can come together to pay our tributes to all those who have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, and point the spotlight on the hundreds of needless deaths at work that occur in the UK every year.”


Mum Maria Burden said: “He was the perfect son – he always got on with everyone he met.”

At the event in Hartlepool, campaigners will accuse the Government of reversing 100 years of progress in health and safety legislation which they say will lead to the increase of deaths and serious injuries in the UK.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 repealed legal protection which made employers liable to pay compensation for breaches of health and safety regulations.

By removing civil liability for health and safety breaches, the burden to prove what went wrong will now be on the injured worker or family of somebody killed, and not the employer.