The director of recycling firm Gaskells (North West) has been sent to prison for eight months after allowing the continued use of a hazardous baler in the wake of a worker’s death in the machine.
The company was also fined £700,000.
Employee Zbigniew Galka died on 23 December 2010 at a Gaskells site in Bootle. He had entered the baling chamber to clear a blockage when the machine automatically started up.
Galka received injuries including ”haemorrhaging, shock and severe traumatic injury to both legs’. He died on his way to hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Merseyside Police revealed the baler’s safety locking system was not in operation, and had not been operational for two months before the accident.
The HSE said poor maintenance of the machine meant it required “frequent operator intervention”.
During a follow-up inspection in July 2015 following a tip-off, HSE inspectors found that the same machine was being used despite the fact that “further critical safety systems” were not operational. The baler could be used even though guarding was open.
Both the company and Jonathan Gaskell, of Peckforton Hall Lane, Tarporley, Cheshire, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to health and safety offences. The company was ordered to pay costs of nearly £100,000 in addition to the fine.
The judge considered the continued hazardous operation of the baler as a serious aggravating factor in his sentencing.
In a statement, Gaskells referred to an accident in 2010 and a “subsequent minor health and safety breach in 2015”.
HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Zbigniew Galka. A great deal of time has passed since his tragic passing, and we would like to publicly thank Zbigniew’s family for their patience throughout this complex investigation.
“This incident was completely avoidable and it is inconceivable that Gaskells continued to operate the same dangerous machine in the way it did for as long as five years after this incident.
“Companies should be aware that the HSE will not accept the defeating of safety systems in order to maintain production, and will not hesitate to take action against those that fall below the required standards.”
- Gaskell’s (North West) Limited of Foster Street, Liverpool pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company as fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £99,886.57.
- Jonathan Gaskell of Peckforton Hall Lane, Tarporley, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.
Gaskells statement in full:
“You may be aware from press reports that Jonathan Gaskell was recently sentenced in respect of an accident which took place in 2010 and a subsequent minor health and safety breach in 2015.
“The short sentence had been anticipated for some time, and it is of note that the judge in his sentencing remarks commented on the excellent safety procedures in place at Gaskells.
“These were isolated incidents in a 28-year history and the company has both an excellent safety record and a reputation for providing a quality service to all our customers.
“We would like to reassure all our customers new and old that with the combination of Gaskells’ excellent and dedicated team, well invested infrastructure, together with the business systems which are in place, the continued smooth running of the operation is guaranteed and the ongoing excellent service provided by Gaskells will continue without interruption.”