Recycling Firm Fined Over Safety Failings
Waste recycling firm, Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd., has been sentenced and issued with a fine following the death of employee Simon Brook.
Mr Brook was found in August 2012 lying at the base of a horizontal bailing machine at the company’s premises in Bately, West Yorkshire.
A doctor was forced to amputate both of Mr Brook’s legs at the scene as they had been partially severed within the machine. Mr Brook died in hospital 2 days after the incident.
Bradford Crown Court heard that although there were no witnesses, the likely scenario is that Mr Brook was seriously injured as he fell into the machine’s hopper whilst clearing some form of obstruction from the bailer. A steel pole was found nearby, suggesting the deceased had been using this to clear the blockage.
Prosecutors for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that due to the baling machine being operational at the time of the incident; it is likely that Mr Brook falling into the hopper cleared away the obstruction, thus causing the machine to restart.
A ‘Prohibition Notice’ was served on the day of the incident by the HSE. This notice was served to forbid the use of the machine involved, as dangerous sections of the bailer were exposed due to defective guarding.
The company is also required to provide systems of work for any future alterations on that particular baler following the HSE also serving Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd. with an ‘Improvement Notice’.
According to the HSE, their investigation found that the failings were systematic. They told the court that the recycling company’s health and safety management was well below the necessary standards. Management had failed to make certain that safe and effective methods of clearing blockages were implemented. Management at Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd. had also failed to put in place long term actions following risk assessments.
Employees told the court that blockages occurred frequently at the plant in Bately, with at least one taking place each day. Employees also stated that they often used numerous unsafe methods to clear such blockages. Methods frequently used included leaning over the side of the machine and poking with a large stick; jumping on the cardboard obstruction within the hopper and climbing over the side of the machine to stand on the actual conveyor belt of the hopper.
Gywnn Davies-McTiffin of Ings Mill, Bradford Road, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company were fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 in costs.
In a victim statement, Mr Brook’s widow 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.
“Every aspect of my life has been affected. Simon lost his life but I have lost my life too. We did everything together. It feels like my lights have been turned off.”
Andrea Jones, the HSE inspector that carried out the investigation, 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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