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Dittisham Recycling Centre fined £50,000 over worker's death

A recycling company has been fined £50,000 with £25,000 costs for serious safety breaches after a worker was killed after it is thought he was thrown from a dumper truck.

The body of Ben Sewell, 30, from Dartmouth, was found near the overturned dumper, on a sloping dirt track at Dittisham Recycling Centre’s facility in the town on 21 September 2012.

Dittisham Recycling Centre admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The judge at Plymouth Crown Court imposed the penalty after taking into account the company’s financial status.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the case after finding that Sewell had not been properly trained to use the vehicle and the company had failed to properly enforce the wearing of seat belts.

After the case, HSE inspector David Cory said: “Ben’s death was entirely preventable. The lack of competent training, poor monitoring and inadequate supervision of staff added up to a fatal combination. Although there were no witnesses, his injuries were consistent with being thrown from the truck.

“Dumper trucks are inherently unstable and dangerous machines to operate, and the company had not enforced the necessary rules to make sure they were driven safely, including the full and proper use of the seat lap belts.

“Dittisham Recycling knew about the importance of having staff competently trained. It had used an external trainer for staff in the past but had not done so for Ben or one of his colleagues. Instead they relied upon in-house verbal and basic hands-on training, which was inadequate.”

HSE served eight prohibition notices on the firm, preventing its use of various plant and machinery until adequate safety measures were taken. Inspectors also issued two improvement notices requiring safety changes to the site’s roadways and tipping safety measures.

HSE found a series of safety failings with other dumper trucks, a tracked excavator and processing machinery for rock crushing and screening. Tipping operations were also unsafe and some of the roadways about the site were inadequately protected.

In a separate case, a plastics recycling company has been sentenced after a worker was injured when he fell from a large waste container.

Southern Plastic Recycling from Chichester was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £2,500 at Worthing Magistrates’ Court after admitting breaching Section 3(1) of Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Section 6 (3) of Work at Height Regulations 2005.

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