A waste recycling company has been fined after an employee lost part of his arm in a conveyor belt.
Lincoln Crown Court heard on 26 April 2015 that the employee of Mid-UK Recycling Ltd was working as a line operator in the building known as Unit 4 MRF (Material Recovery Facility). On the morning of the incident, blockages had occurred on this line and waste had become wrapped around the axle stopping a lower conveyor. It was whilst removing waste from this axle that the employee’s glove got dragged into the in-running nip between the belt and the powered roller of the conveyor. This resulted in his left arm being amputated above the elbow.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed that the company had failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of the conveyor. The castell key system had essentially been bypassed allowing the system to be operated in automatic mode with persons still inside the enclosure.
Mid UK Recycling Limited (now known as MUKR Limited) of Summit House, Quarrington, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, NG34 8RS pleaded guilty to a breach of section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974) and was fined £1.275 million and ordered to pay costs of £45,065.59
Speaking after the hearing, HM inspector Scott Wynne said, “This incident could so easily have been avoided had the company ensured that the system designed to keep people away from dangerous machinery was properly maintained. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
HSADD SAYS – I have lost count of the number of really bad accidents in recycling plants, almost all of them stem from 1. Cost savings, 2. Lack of training, 3. Lack of understanding and the bypassing of safety systems, for which money-saving will come into it!
The fine was large in this case, although the turnover and profit are not known. The sooner Companies start to take into account the health and wellbeing of their employees the better, but I doubt this will be the last case of this nature