A recycling firm has been ordered to pay £120,000 over the death of a worker at its premises in Batley, West Yorkshire.
Gwynn Davies-McTiffin was fined £80,000 with costs of £40,000 after admitting a breach of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Bradford Crown Court was told that in August 2012 employee Simon Brook’s legs were partially severed inside a horizontal baling machine (pictured) and amputated by a doctor at the scene. He died two days later.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the court that management had failed to implement long standing actions from risk assessments or ensure that safe working practices for clearing blockages were put in place.
It is believed the worker was fatally injured when he fell into the baling machine’s hopper while clearing a blockage using a steel pole.
HSE’s investigation found that as the machine was operational at the time, and it is likely that Brook falling into the hopper cleared the blockage, causing the machine to automatically restart.
The court heard that blockages occurred on every shift at the plant, with employees describing various unsafe methods of clearing blockages in the hopper of the baler.
These included standing on the top platform, leaning over the side and prodding the blockage with a stick, climbing over the side of the machine and standing on the conveyor belt at the top of the hopper or jumping on the cardboard blockage within the hopper.
HSE inspector Andrea Jones, who carried out the investigation, said: “This was an entirely foreseeable accident which resulted in fatal consequences.”
The executive issued a notice to the company on the day of the incident prohibiting use of the baler involved. An improvement notice was also served requiring the company to provide systems of work for all foreseeable interventions on the baler.
The company said it was “deeply saddened” by the loss of Brook.
“We are a small family run business which has operated in the close-knit community of Batley for 50 years. Simon was a well-respected employee and our thoughts at this very difficult time are with his wife and sons.”