Two companies in the waste sector have this week been fined for safety breaches in separate cases brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
On Monday (11 March), Alness-based William Munro Construction (Highland) Limited, was fined £30,000 at Tain Sheriff Court for an incident in November 2018 in which an operative sustained ‘severe’ leg injuries.
HSE said that the worker had fallen 2-3 metres into a compactor chamber, whilst working at the company’s Beechwood Waste Transfer Station. Language difficulties were said to have contributed to the incident.
According to the HSE, the Court heard that the employee was attempting to clear a blockage in an infeed hopper in the machine by using a wooden bar while the machine was in automatic mode. The worker had climbed into the machine to try and free the blockage, before it came loose.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Norman Schouten said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices and communicating them to the employees in their own language.”
When approached by letsrecycle.com for comment, Billy Munro, managing director of the company, said: “The company were very disappointed that an employee was injured, the first in 40 years of its involvement in the asbestos removal, demolition, quarrying and waste management industries.
“All control measures and safe working practices, including shut down procedures, were in place at the time of the accident, albeit not all were in Polish. The company relied to an extent on peer to peer instruction by bilingual Polish supervisors to the workforce in their own language.
“The Company have dealt with the matters raised by HSE including communication between management and the workforce and are confident that the measures it has taken will ensure that communication will not be an issue in the future.”
In a separate case that reached conclusion at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court yesterday (13 March), Preston-based KT Recycling was fined £20,000 due to an incident dating back to April 2017, at the company’s Rough Hey Industrial Estate site. According to HSE, an employee was injured whilst operating unguarded machinery.
The HSE said that the worker had been attempting to remove waste material when his hand became trapped between a conveyor belt and the drive roller of a magnetic separator. The incident caused “extensive damage” to his left forearm, leaving him with a lasting impairment in the use of his arm.
An investigation by HSE found that guard plates had been removed several weeks before the incident but had not been replaced. In addition, “the company had no procedures to check the guard plates were correctly fitted, failed to provide suitable training in the safe use of the machine, and failed to adequately supervise the operatives who used it,” the HSE said.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: “This incident could easily have been avoided if the company had put procedures in place to ensure that guard plates were maintained correctly, and their use was properly supervised.”
KT recycling was also ordered to pay costs of £12,000. letsrecycle.com has contacted the company for comment.