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£1m fine for Mid-UK after shredder death

Two company directors have been given suspended prison sentences and their company, Mid-UK Recycling, ordered to pay nearly £1m in fines and costs following the death of an agency worker in a shredder machine.

The sentences were imposed at Nottingham Crown Court, and followed the fatal incident at the company’s Barkston Heath site near Grantham, Lincolnshire, in July 2013.

In a statement after the case, Mid-UK Recycling apologised to the family and said it had “heavily invested” in health and safety systems and strengthened its management team.

The court case on 10 November came two years after an inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death. Karlis Pavasars, 55, had to be identified by DNA from his toothbrush after he fell into the shredder, according to a BBC report.

Mid-UK Recycling pleaded guilty to two offences, and was fined £880,000 with costs of £100,000.

Managing director Chris Mountain, who admitted two offences relating to the same incident, was given a 20-week custodial sentence suspended for two years and a fine of £50,000.

Alan Munson, who has since left the company, received a similar sentence for two offences.

In a statement, Mid-UK Recycling, said it was “extremely sorry” the incident occurred and for failings in some processes at that time.

“The company has always strived to maintain health and safety of the highest standards and is therefore devastated that, on this occasion, those standards were not being met,” it said. 

Mountain added: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Pavasars’ family. We have recognised that while we thought our processes were rigorous, there were clearly gaps in our systems which allowed this to happen.

“It is a hard lesson learned but, since 2013, we have worked extremely hard to make sure we have as much as possible in place to prevent such a tragic incident ever happening again.”

The company says it has invested heavily in improving its health and safety systems, and strengthened the management team to ensure a strong health and safety culture across every area of the business.

It has employed a full-time experienced health and safety manager, as well as a director with responsibility for health and safety. In 2016, it achieved OHSAS 18001 accreditation for health and safety management systems, and all managers have received IOSH management safety training.

Mid-UK Recycling introduced a new traffic management system and safety walking routes for pedestrians, carries out regular internal audits and spot checks on health and safety, as well as employing an external auditor to carry out health and safety reviews.

Mid-UK Recycling was charged with two offences:

  • Failing to discharge a duty to employees, owed by virtue of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and contrary to Section 33 (1) (a) of the Act.
  • Failing to discharge a duty to persons other than employees, owed by virtue of Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and contrary to Section 33 (1) (a) of the Act.

Mountain and Munson were both charged with the following offences:

  • Being the director of a company which committed an offence contrary to sections 2(1) and 33 (1) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 194 and that offence being attributable to his consent, or neglect, contrary to Sections 33 (1) (a) and 37 of the Act.
  • Being the director of a company which committed an offence contrary to sections 3(1) and 33 (1) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 194 and that offence being attributable to his consent, or neglect, contrary to Sections 33 (1) (a) and 37 of the Act.

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