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Dorset businesses fined for safety failings

Date:
30 January 2015

Two Dorset companies have been fined after an employee was injured by an industrial vacuum at a waste treatment and energy recovery site in Bristol.

The 53-year-old, from Bristol, who does not want to be named, was employed as an industrial cleaner to clean thermal treatment units at the Avonmouth site. On 5 August 2013 he agreed to help empty ash, a by-product of the thermal treatment process, from steel barrels using a specialist vacuum machine.

During the process, one of his colleagues used a fork lift truck to shake the vacuum to dislodge any remaining ash deposits from the filters. It came off the forks of the truck, overturned and struck the cleaner, trapping him underneath.

He suffered a fractured back and two fractured ribs, and was unable to return to work for seven months.

Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard today (29 Jan) that New Earth Solutions Group Ltd, which runs the mechanical biological treatment facility, had commissioned an energy recovery facility next to the site.

During the design, build and commissioning phases, the new facility was under the control of NEAT Technology Group Ltd. When the site began operating, responsibility of the site was transferred to New Earth Solutions.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both NEAT Technology Group Ltd and New Earth Solutions Group Ltd failed to assess the risks associated with unblocking the vacuum filters and did not identify a safe system of work using appropriate equipment to unblock the machine. Both companies also failed to sufficiently train and instruct workers to unblock the filters safely and did not monitor or supervise the process.

New Earth Solutions Group Ltd, of Ebblake Industrial Estate, Verwood, Dorset, was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,241 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

NEAT Technology Group Ltd, of the same address, was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,241 after also pleading guilty to the same breach of the same legislation

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matthew Tyler said:

“This incident highlights the importance of effectively controlling the risks associated with all work processes. This did not occur in this case, and the consequences could have been far more serious.

“This incident could have easily been avoided and the injured cleaner would not have been injured had both companies planned this work properly and provided with appropriate training and supervision.”

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 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act states that: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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