Monday’s fatality at UPM Shotton has prompted widespread sympathy across the paper manufacturing and recycling sector, according to UPM.
Consequently, a number of paper recycling and mill sites in the UK today (9 February) joined UPM Shotton in a minute’s silence, in respect for contract worker Austin Thomas who died at the Shotton mill on 6 February.
The sector is known to have been taking health and safety as of the utmost importance and the fatal incident has caused concern within the paper mill sector.
Local media reported that Mr Thomas, 29, and a father of one had served with the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and toured in Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Speaking today David Ingham, general manager, UPM Shotton said: “We have had many individuals and companies, from within the UK paper industry and beyond, who have made contact with us to express condolences to the bereaved and solidarity with all employees who have been affected by the tragic accident.”
Mr Ingham added: “Both UPM and Downton have provided full access to their respective Occupational Health Teams, which will offer counselling to those affected if required.”
The mill and warehouse were closed on Monday night until Tuesday morning as a mark of respect to the family and colleagues of the deceased. Normal recycling and production activities have resumed.
UPM noted that “Austin Thomas, a contractor worker for Downton, was struck by a bucket loader in the recovered paper warehouse at UPM Shotton on Monday. On Tuesday 7th February, North Wales Police handed the investigation over to the Health and Safety Executive.”
UPM and Downton, who are contracted to provide warehouse services for UPM Shotton, said that they have now fully reviewed all procedures following the incident. “The Health and Safety Executive have also been consulted and have approved these. UPM Shotton will continue to work closely with all parties to identify the cause of the incident.”
Contractor CM Downton Ltd of Moreton Valence, Gloucestershire has been working with UPM for over a decade and in 2011 signed a contract with UPM to become the logistics partner for the Shotton paper mill for the next five years. This has since been renewed.
A spokeswoman for the company told letsrecycle.com today that: “We are truly stunned and saddened at the death of Mr Thomas. Out of respect we won’t be making any further comment while the HSE is investigating.”
In the past Downton Ltd has reported on Shotton’s description of the logistics work at the site: “The logistics operation for Shotton is far more than simply getting products to our customers’ print sites. We need to collect sorted recyclates for return to the plant, bring biomass and woodchip fuel to the biomass plant from various suppliers, and now also collect commingled materials to be sorted at the materials recycling facility.
“This is a hugely complex operation and we need logistics partners who can fulfil our requirements, and those of our customers, with minimum miles wasted and as little empty running as possible.”
Downton works with a range of other paper companies including Holmen and Norske Skog.