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Recycler fined after workers knocked out by fumes

A food waste and animal rendering company has been fined £250,000 after three employees inhaled toxic gases and passed out.

Prosecutors for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Stafford Crown Court that in April 2014 an employee of John Pointon & Sons entered a compartment within an animal waste trailer and was overcome by the gases, including hydrogen sulphide.

Subsequently, two further employees at the Stoke-on-Trent site went into the waste compartment and were also overcome.

The court heard this was a preventable incident that could have resulted in fatalities.

The company said only one additional employee entered the facility after the initial incident and not the HSE’s reported two.

It said in a statement: “We at John Pointon & Sons have worked hard to ensure the highest possible health and safety standards across our sites, working closely with expert external consultants and specialist training providers.

“The regrettable accident in 2014 was a reminder that, despite our best efforts, accidents can still happen and we redoubled our determination to lead the industry in health and safety.

“We co-operated fully with the HSE’s investigation and further improved our systems, in the process investing in the latest technologies and training methods.”

The firm was fined £250,000 with costs of £37,362 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work, Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 5(1) of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997.

In 2015 the company was fined £660,000, four years after a worker died while trying to repair an industrial cooker.

The HSE said at the time that, in 2004, another employee was killed at the same Cheddleton site when he entered a confined space without proper precautions being taken.


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