Mid-UK Recycling Ltd has been fined £880,000, and two people given suspended prison sentences after the death of an agency worker who was fatally drawn into machinery.
Nottingham Crown Court heard how Karlis Pavasars working at Mid-UK Recycling Limited – at its Barkston Heath site near Ancaster – “lost his life while cleaning near a conveyor”, the HSE noted. 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.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the accident that occurred on 19 July 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, the court heard. Management were aware that the gate was not in place just days before the incident, the court was told.
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 has been 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 has been 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 Health and Safety at Work Act and was given a 20 week prison sentence suspended for two years.
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”.
After the court hearing, the company released the following statement: “Mid-UK Recycling Ltd is extremely sorry that this incident occurred and for the failings in some of its processes which existed at that time.
“The company 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, managing director of Mid-UK Recycling Ltd, 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.”
In a statement, the company also said: “Since the incident in 2013 Mid-UK Recycling Ltd 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.
“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.”
The statement concluded: “In terms of on-site changes, the company 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.”