The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has successfully prosecuted a recycling firm for safety failings, following the death of an employee.
Father-of-six Simon Brook, 50, was employed by Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd at the company’s premises in Batley, West Yorkshire.
Mr Brook was found severely injured and trapped in a baling machine on 17 August 2012.
There were no witnesses to the accident, but an investigation by the HSE concluded that he had fallen into the baling machine, while clearing a blockage. A steel pole was found in the chamber, suggesting that Mr Brook had been using the pole to clear a blockage at the time of the accident.
Mr Brook died in hospital two days after the accident. Doctors had to amputate both his legs at the scene of the accident.
HSE inspectors found that as the machine was operational at the time of the incident, it was likely that Mr Brook fell into the hopper as he tried to clear the blockage, which caused the machine to restart.
HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd on the day of the incident, which prohibited the use of the baler due to guarding deficiencies, which allowed employees to access dangerous parts. An Improvement Notice was also served, requiring the company to provide systems of work for all foreseeable interventions on the baler.
Bradford Crown Court heard that failings at the company’s premises in Batley were systemic. Health and safety management systems had fallen “far short” of what was required – with the company’s management failing to ensure that long-standing actions from risk assessments were implemented, or that safe working practices for clearing blockages were put in place.
The court also heard that blockages occurred on every shift at the plant – with employees describing unsafe methods of clearing blockages in the hopper of the baler, which involved standing on the top platform, leaning over the side and “prodding” the blockage with a stick; as well as climbing over the side of the machine and standing on the conveyor belt at the top of the hopper – or jumping on the cardboard blockage within the hopper.
On Wednesday, 2 September at Bradford Crown Court, Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd of Ings Mill, Bradford Rd, Batley, West Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £80,000, with costs of £40,000.
In a Victim Personal Statement, Mr Brook’s widow, Diane, said:
“The lives of myself and our children have been ruined.
“Simon was my best friend, my husband – and our children have lost a wonderful father. We have lost everything.”
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrea Jones, said:
“The risks of clearing blockages at baling machines are well known in the manufacturing industries, particularly in waste recycling industries.
“Adequate guarding of dangerous moving parts and the provision of safe systems of work including isolating and locking-off machinery are the basic principles for protecting employees.
“Various unsafe methods of clearing blockages were used by several employees over a long period of time. There was no supervision or monitoring by management.
“This was an entirely foreseeable accident, which resulted in fatal consequences.”
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