6 June 2012

SITA UK fined 200,000 after death of employee

SITA UK Ltd has been fined 200,000 and ordered to pay 77,402 in costs after a 21-year-old employee died of head injuries at its paper baling site in Tipton in 2008.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the waste management firm after Mark Bate, of Tipton, West Midlands was killed when the arm of a JCB skid steer loader crushed his head on June 12 2008.

The incident took place at SITA UK's paper baling site in Tipton

The incident took place at SITA UK’s paper baling site in Tipton

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard last week (June 1) that Mr Bate had been driving the vehicle at SITAs premises on the Coneygre Industrial Estate for three months without being properly trained.

The HSE said on the day of the incident Mr Bate had been working on his own to load scrap paper onto a conveyor. After finishing the job, he stopped the loader and raised the safety bar from across his lap to isolate the machine, before leaning out of the front of the vehicle. However, the machine failed to isolate, the loaders arm dropped and crushed his head against the machine, killing him immediately.

Investigation

HSEs investigation found that Mr Bate had not been formally trained, assessed or supervised in the use of the vehicle and a self-employed maintenance engineer had also used it over several months with no training.

In addition, the court heard the loader had not been maintained in the eight months before the incident. The HSE said that it should have been serviced at least twice during this time.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Evans said: “Mark Bate was a young man who should have had a long life ahead of him. Instead, he was killed in an entirely avoidable tragedy. Despite knowing his lack of experience, SITA left him unsupervised to operate the loader. Furthermore, the vehicle was dangerous because it had not been properly maintained.

“The companys risk assessment should have identified these issues but did not cover the use of this machine. Transport at work is one of the biggest causes of deaths in the workplace, often through insufficient training or poorly maintained vehicles. There is no excuse for such basic failings, especially as free advice is available from HSE.”

Regret

A statement from SITA UK said: SITA UK regrets the tragic death of Mark Bate and accepts the prosecution handed down by the court today. Mark was a well-liked and respected member of the team at Tipton and we would reiterate our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

We acknowledge that this accident should have never happened and we continue to use the learnings from this to improve the health and safety of our employees.

Justice

In addition to the 200,000 fine and 77,402 costs the company was also ordered to reimburse Mr Bates mother 4,450 in funeral expenses.

In a statement released via the HSE, Marks mother Catherine Jones, and his sisters Ann-Marie and Gemma Bate said: “Nothing and no-one can bring Mark back but, four years on, we feel we are finally getting justice for what happened to him that day.

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