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Mansfield textile recycler fined £650k after death of 76-year-old employee

A textile recycling company in Mansfield has been fined £650,000 after a 76-year-old employee was killed by a reversing delivery vehicle last year.

The woman, who has not been named, was walking towards the smoking shelter in the rear yard of Savanna Rags International Ltd’s site on 26 April 2016 when she was struck by a vehicle reversing from the yard’s weighbridge to deliver goods.

Mansfield textile recycler fined £650k after death of 76-year-old employee
The woman sustained fatal injuries from the impact, Mansfield Magistrates’ Court heard this week.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to make ‘suitable and sufficient assessment’ of the risks arising from vehicle movement at the site.

The court heard that it was custom practice from vehicles to reverse from the weighbridge, which was also used by employees to access the factory.

There were no measures in place to adequately segregate pedestrians from moving vehicles, and there was no safe system of work to ensure that vehicles could manoeuvre safely, the HSE concluded.

Savanna Rags International collects textiles and clothing from charity shops and clothes banks across England before either baling it for reuse abroad in Africa and Europe or recycled into new fibres.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

It was fined £650,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,300.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Aaron Rashad said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks arising from the movement of vehicles and implement safe systems of work. This meant the company failed to put in place a number of simple safety measures including segregating vehicles and pedestrians and reducing the need for vehicles to reverse.”

14 people were fatally injured in the waste and recycling industry in 2016/17, according to HSE statistics. The waste and recycling sector, which is made up of around 120,000 workers, remains one of the most dangerous in the UK, with a fatal injury rate almost ten times higher than the industry average.

In September the HSE released a plan for increasing safety in the waste and recycling industry, identifying reducing fatal injuries from moving vehicles as a priority.

Rashad continued: “Sadly, this is the most common cause of fatal injuries in this sector. HSE is currently in the middle of targeting waste and recycling premises with an inspection initiative that will look at certain activities to ensure effective management and control of risk.

“We are calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website. Every worker has the right to return from work safe in the knowledge that their employer takes their health and safety seriously.”

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