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Recycling company in court after worker fell from conveyor belt

Date:
23 December 2014

A Lincolnshire metal recycling firm has been prosecuted for safety breaches after a worker was left with broken ribs when he fell from a sloping conveyor belt.

The worker, 49, from Deeping St Nicholas in Lincolnshire, suffered multiple rib fractures following the incident at BW Riddle in Bourne on 7 February, 2013.

Lincoln Crown Court heard today (22 Dec) that the worker was carrying out maintenance on the conveyor belt, leaning over the top end while working on the bearings. When the main power was switched on again, the whole line, including the belt, reactivated.

The man fell from the belt onto a heap of scrap metal below, and then onto the concrete floor, breaking ribs on both sides of his body.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the conveyor belt had not been isolated.

The court was told HSE had taken previous enforcement action against the company. In August 2010 it was found there were no formal procedures for isolating the conveyors during maintenance. An Improvement Notice was issued and complied with.

Further enforcement action was taken in 2010 relating to failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, and again in 2011.

BW Riddle, which has been established 50 years and has sites in Boston, Corby and Peterborough, was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £18,000 in costs for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company, of South Fen Road, Bourne, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Ward said:

“The incident could easily have resulted in a death and only luck saved this worker from more serious injury.

“Had the company put in place the correct, formal procedures for locking off and isolating the conveyor belts, this incident could have been prevented entirely.

“However, it is clear that while BW Riddle had complied with previous enforcement action, the firm neglected safety again and again, and disregarded lessons that should have been learned from previous HSE interventions.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace   health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk 
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
  3. HSE press releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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