A recycling company in Redditch has been fined £100,000 after one of its workers was killed by a falling bale of waste.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that R&S Recycling failed to safely store bales of paper and plastics at its Beoley site.
This lead to the death of Kenneth Swaby, 43, from Canvey Island, Essex, who was struck by a bale weighting more than a tonne that fell from a five metre high stack as he walked past it on 11 February 2011.
Three of the bales toppled over and one landed directly on top of him, killing him instantly.
HSE found that the stacks of bales were uneven and too high, with no measures in place to prevent employees approaching them on foot.
R&S Recycling pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was ordered by Worcester Crown Court to pay the fine, along with costs of over £57,000.
HSE inspector Jan Willets said: “Mr Swaby’s tragic death could have been prevented had R&S Recycling Limited made simple and adequate provisions to protect employees working with and alongside stacks of baled waste.
“The risks from materials falling from storage at height are clear, and there are necessary procedures for the safe management of bales in stacks. Yet on this occasion, Mr Swaby was able to walk right next to these unstable bales, with devastating consequences.”
The HSE noted that noted that bales of paper and plastic should slope backwards towards the top and be interlocked to prevent them from falling. The stability of the stack should be checked regularly, and where bales can fall, workers on the ground should be kept well clear.