Countryside Recycling has been fined £666,700 after an employee was struck in the head by the boom of a telehandler.
The incident happened on 30 September 2015 at the company’s premises in Maidstone, Kent. The victim, 34, suffered serious brain injuries and has not returned to work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the telehandler boom, which was being used to move paper, had been left running in an elevated position while the employee left his cab.
The boom was then lowered by another employee who had entered the cab, hitting the victim’s head.
The HSE found that the company had failed to suitably plan the management and overseeing of workplace transport activities on-site. It also found that employees had not been trained sufficiently to operate telehandlers safely.
At Folkestone magistrates court, Countrystyle Recycling admitted breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and breaching Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay costs of £8,424.
HSE inspector Bose Gabriel said: “This incident could have been prevented had Countrystyle planned this workplace activity beforehand and identified the risks associated.
“Duty holders must ensure they devise and carry out safe systems of work at all times. Workplace transport incidents are very serious and usually result in life-threatening injuries, as highlighted in this case.”
Countryside Recycling was prosecuted in 2016 after a plant mechanic was injured in 2013 when the metal plate forming the roof of the shredder hammer drum became detached at its Ridham facility near Sittingbourne.
An investigation by the HSE found that the company did not have adequate or suitable systems in place, including failing to enforce the ‘safe stop’ process which should be followed when using dangerous machinery.