Suez Recycling and Recovery has been fined £144,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches after one of its employees was injured.
The employee injured his back while manually helping to move gantry steps weighing more than 950kg – equivalent to two grand pianos – at a site in Duckworth Clough, Haslingden, on 10 September 2016.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that moving and realigning steps manually was a regular occurrence, and that employees used a scaffold pole under the steps to move them back into position.
Investigators also found that senior staff knew the steps were being moved in this way and that employees had reported their concerns. However, no suitable assessment had been carried out into how to move the steps safely, and no equipment or aids were considered.
Preston Crown Court fined Suez Recycling and Recovery of Grenfell Road, Maidenhead, on 2 May under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety and Work Act 1974.
HSE inspector Sharon Butler said: “Incorrect manual handling is one of the most common causes of injury at work. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working, and to provide the necessary equipment, information, instruction and training to their workers.
“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”
A spokesperson for Suez said: “We put the safety of our employees, and the public we serve, at the centre of everything we do. We have invested significantly in our health and safety management systems over the past decade and created a successful, long-running, ‘Safety in Mind’ programme, which helps us to continually improve our health and safety performance.
“Unfortunately, on this occasion, we have fallen short of our own high standards and this resulted in an injury to an employee although, thankfully, the employee has since recovered.
“We have learned from this incident and, although Suez no longer operates the specific site in question, have reviewed our procedures across the business to ensure similar incidents do not occur elsewhere.”