A recycling company and its managing director have been ordered to pay fines and court costs amounting to over £1 million, and two people have been given suspended prison sentences after the death of an agency worker who was drawn into machinery while cleaning in the area.
Nottingham Crown Court heard on Friday how Karlis Pavasars working at Mid–UK Recycling Limited at the Barkston Heath site near Ancaster lost his life while cleaning near a conveyor. The recycling line was started up and the worker was drawn onto the conveyor, along the line through a trommel and into an industrial waste shredder, the court was told.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the accident that occurred on July 19, 2013 found that the fixed gate that fenced the area off and prevented access to the conveyor had been removed for a number of weeks prior to the incident, which meant that workers could freely gain access to the area. Management were aware that the gate was not in place just days before the incident.
Mid-UK Recycling Ltd of Summit House, Quarrington, Sleaford pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £880,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000.
Christopher Mountain, Managing Director, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was given a 20-week prison sentence suspended for two years and fined £50,000.
Alan Munson, former Operations Director, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was given a 20 week prison sentence suspended for two years.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Dr Richenda Dixon commented: “This horrific fatality could so easily have been avoided by simply installing and maintaining physical guards around conveyors and ensuring that safe working practices were in place. Employers should make sure they properly assess, apply and maintain effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery”.
The company issued a statement following the sentencing on Friday.
Mid-UK Recycling Ltd said that it was “extremely sorry” that this incident occurred and for the failings in some of its processes which existed at that time.
The company said it has always strived to maintain health and safety of the highest standards and is therefore “devastated” that on this occasion, those standards were not being met.
Chris Mountain said: “We are extremely sorry that this accident occurred and our thoughts remain with Mr Pavasars’ family. We have recognised that while we thought our processes were rigorous, there were clearly gaps in our systems which allowed this to happen. It is a hard lesson learned, but since 2013 we have worked extremely hard to make sure we have as much as possible in place to prevent such a
tragic incident ever happening again.”
Since the incident in 2013 Mid-UK Recycling Ltd says it has invested heavily in improving its health and safety systems and has strengthened its management team to ensure there is a strong health and safety culture across every area of the business.
The company adds that it has employed a full-time experienced health and safety manager, as well as a director with responsibility for health and safety. Last year it achieved the OHSAS 18001 accreditation for its health and safety management systems. In addition all its managers have received the IOSH Management Safety training.
In terms of on-site changes, the company says it has introduced a new traffic management system and safety walking routes for pedestrians. It also carries out regular internal audits and spot checks on health and safety, as well as employing an external auditor to carry out health and safety reviews.