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SITA fined £200k for employee death

SITA UK has been fined £200,000 plus costs and funeral expenses after a 21-year-old employee died from head injuries at one of its sites in the West Midlands.

Mark Bate, of Tipton, West Midlands, was killed instantly at a paper-baling plant in the town on 12 June 2008 when the arm of a JCB skid steer loader crushed his head.

SITA UK was ordered to pay £77,402 in costs and reimburse Mark’s mother £4,450 for the funeral.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that Bate had been driving the vehicle at SITA’s premises on the Coneygre Industrial Estate in Tipton for three months without being properly trained.

On the day of the incident, he 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 loader’s arm dropped and crushed his head against the machine, killing him immediately.

The court heard the loader had not been maintained in the eight months before the incident, during which time it should have been serviced at least twice.

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.”

In a statement, Mark’s 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.”

SITA UK pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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