A waste recycling firm has been fined after a Leicester worker suffered severe crush injuries in an unsafe machine.
The 22-year-old, who has asked not to be named, was clearing a blockage from a cardboard baler at Bakers Waste Services Ltd’s Enderby site on 27 January 2014 when his left leg became trapped between the static framework and moving bed.
It took firefighters three hours to free him. He was in hospital for four weeks and underwent three operations to insert metal rods and screws between his knee and ankle. He also required skin and muscle grafts, and in some places the bones in his leg were so severely damaged they are now missing.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had failed to maintain guards and other protective devices on the baler. Although guards were present they did not close properly meaning interlocking devices and the electrical control circuit of the machine were not properly activated.
Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard today (26 March) that while the worker was clearing the blockage he inadvertently activated the baler as there was also no safe system of work for safely isolating the power supply.
Bakers Waste Services Ltd, of Melton Road, Thurmaston, Leicester was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,577 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berian Price said:
“The incident was entirely preventable. Bakers Waste Services fell below the standards expected of a competent employer, standards which are well publicised and accepted within the industry. The safety devices on the baler had been defective for a period of time yet it took an horrific incident before they took action to remedy the problem.
“Incidents arising from dangerous parts of machinery are unfortunately commonplace despite freely available guidance. Around 12 people a year are killed and a further 40,000 injured due to incidents involving machinery.”
Guidance of the safe use of machinery can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/
Notes to editors
1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce 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 1974 states: 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.