13 November 2013 by Chloe Doel

Wood recycling firm fined 200k after worker death

By Michael Holder

Middlesbrough-based UK Wood Recycling Ltd has been fined 200,000 and ordered to pay costs of 34,000 for serious safety failings after a loading vehicle killed a worker at the firms recycling site in Redcar, Wilton.

Raymond Thomas Burns, 43, of Eston, who worked as a load inspector for the company was walking between a wood pile and a skip in the sites yard when he was hit by a load shovel and run over five years ago.

UK Wood Recycling provides waste wood for the Wilton 10 Biomass plant near Teesside

UK Wood Recycling provides waste wood for the Wilton 10 Biomass plant near Teesside

The incident, on December 19 2008, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and the charges were heard yesterday (12 November) at Teesside Crown Court.

UK Wood Recycling Ltd a company launched in 2006 by Hadfield Wood Recyclers to supply recovered wood chip to the Wilton 10 Biomass Power Station next door operated by Sembcorp Utilities UK pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety regulations.

The court heard that Mr Burns had been working around a large wood pile being used to feed a hammer mill where the wood was smashed to chips. The shovel vehicle was moving material from one part of the site to another.

According the HSE, as he crossed to a skip, Mr Burns was struck and run over by the load shovel and died of his injuries at the scene.

A subsequent investigation by HSE found that no segregation measures, either in time or space, had been put in place by UK Wood Recycling to separate vehicles and pedestrians working on the site.

HSE said that workers at the site were unprotected from the dangers of constantly moving vehicles despite previous incidents where vehicles had collided and workers reporting other near misses.

As a result, UK Wood Recycling Ltd, of Lumb Farm, Little Moss, Droylsden, Manchester, was fined 200,000 and ordered to pay costs of 34,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 17(1) by virtue of Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

‘We are extremely sorry that Ray lost his life as a result of an incident at work and there is nothing we can say to change that for Ray or his family’

David Lee, chief operating officer at UK Wood Recycling

Extremely sorry

David Lee, chief operating officer at UK Wood Recycling, commented: We are extremely sorry that Ray lost his life as a result of an incident at work and there is nothing we can say to change that for Ray or his family.

Mr Lee added that since the incident occurred in 2008 the company has worked tirelessly to improve health and safety procedures on site, including the introduction of improved pedestrian walkways, pedestrian exclusion zones, radio communication between workers and mobile picking stations to remove the need for people to be on the ground.

He said: Judge said that we have taken our responsibilities extremely seriously and that we are not a cowboy operation, which I think is an important point to emphasise.

We take health and safety very seriously and will continue to work on improving standards not only in our own business, but also driving higher standards across our industry.

HSE

Speaking after the hearing yesterday (November 12), HSE inspector Bruno Porter, said: A conscientious and hard-working man has lost his life in this senseless way. There was simply an acceptance by UK Wood Recycling Ltd of the established working pattern. Solely relying on drivers or workers noticing each other is not adequate control.

This was an entirely preventable death caused by the company failing to have a system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other. Ideally, this segregation is achieved by the vehicles and pedestrians having separate traffic routes. If they share a route or area then physical barriers should be used to keep them apart, or other means of preventing moving vehicles and people being in the same place at the same time.

He added: The waste industry has a very high injury rate, and most of the fatal and major injuries relate to transport issues. The risks of serious injury and, all too frequently, death, resulting from the failure to control the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians are widely recognised.


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