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Workplace failings cost Lowmac Alloys £80,000

A recycling company has been fined £80,000 after a worker was severely injured when he was crushed between two skips.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a series of failings in terms of risk assessment, training, safety barriers and markers, and the size of the loader. Ayr Sheriff Court was told the injured worker had been using the space between the skips as a toilet because the conventional facilities on the site were unhygienic and had no running water.

The incident happened on 26 August 2009 when Steven Graham was working at a recycling centre in Ayr run by Lowmac Alloys. A shovel loader weighing more than 18 tonnes hit one skip, pushing it towards another and crushing Graham between them. He was treated for a broken pelvis and other severe injuries, and continues to have difficulty in walking.

The HSE found that the company had not made a proper risk assessment of traffic management at its site, and had not provided and maintained a safe system of work in that there were no barriers or road markings to separate pedestrian workers from the shovel loader or other vehicles on-site.

The shovel loader was found to be too large for the area in which it was operating, and drivers had never been formally trained, were not supervised, and had been given no training at all on health and safety issues.

The one portable toilet on-site had no running water. Several employees told HSE inspectors that the toilet was so filthy they preferred to urinate in the yard, and this was a practice accepted by management.

Lowmac Alloys pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. It was fined £80,000.

HSE inspector Aileen Jardine said: “This incident was entirely avoidable. If Lowmac had taken simple steps to protect staff, carrying out a proper risk assessment and taking measures to separate employees from the heavy vehicles that operated on-site, this would not have happened.

“And if the company had shown basic consideration for the welfare of its employees by providing a toilet that was fit to use, Graham would not have been left in such a vulnerable position.”

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