MID UK Recycling shredder death ‘accidental’
A man who was killed at MID UK Recycling’s Grantham facility in Lincolnshire in 2013 died ‘accidentally’, an inquest has found.
Karlis Pavasars, 55, was working at the firm, which shreds household waste for use as fuel pellets, on Friday, 19 July 2013, when the incident occurred.
Lincoln’s Cathedral Centre heard that a colleague had seen Pavasars lying motionless on a conveyor belt at the recycling facility in Ermine Street, seconds before he passed into a shredding machine. His injuries were so extensive that he had to be identified by DNA taken from his toothbrush.
Although the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told the inquest last week that a lack of guarding around conveyors could have caused the accident (a sensor gate that restricted access to the conveyor belt and shredding machine was not operational at the time of the event), jurors ruled that the exact circumstances of the incident were unclear and therefore ruled the death to be ‘accidental’.
Giving evidence, Dr Dominic Swan of HSE, told the jury: "In my opinion the accident resulted from the lack of guarding around the conveyer belt.
"Other contributory factors were: the lack of control and management of personnel in the shed; poor risk assessments; lack of procedures for undertaking maintenance, cleaning and clearing of blockages, and lack of supervision of personnel.
"What actually happened to Mr Pavasars is unknown, but if the machinery had been guarded he would not have ended up in the shredder, or on the conveyer."
HSE is continuing its investigation into the incident, which MID UK Recycling has said it will co-operate with.
A statement from the firm read: "MID UK Recycling Limited have enormous sympathy for the family of Karlis Pavasars and we would like to offer them our deepest condolences for their loss through this tragic incident almost two years ago.
"We are grateful to the coroner for carrying out a thorough investigation into Mr Pavasars' death which the jury concluded was as a result of an accident.
"We will continue to offer our support and assistance to the HSE with its ongoing investigation."
It is understood that there is to be a civil action for damages against MID UK Recycling.
Fire at MID UK Recycling continues to burn
In related news, a fire that broke out at MID UK Recycling’s Ermine Street site last week is still under surveillance, with one fire crew onsite to monitor the waste bales.
Around 75 firefighters from Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Service were sent to tackle the fire last week (7 July), when 4,000 bales of mixed household waste and shredded carpets caught alight at MID UK Recycling’s waste site.
Although some roads were closed to allow emergency services easy access to the fire, these have since been reopened.
On Friday (10 July) a Public Health England spokesperson said that although there have been “no reports of anyone experiencing ill effects from the fire”, local residents are being advised to stay indoors and keep windows and doors shut if smoke is affecting their property.
The spokesperson said: "Residents in areas affected by the smoke should stay indoors, and keep their doors and windows closed during periods when smoke is affecting their property.
"Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.
"So far, there have not been reports of any people experiencing ill effects from this fire [but] any smoke can be an irritant and as such, if people need to be outdoors, they are advised to avoid outside areas affected by any smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them.
"Some of the substances present in smoke can irritate the lining of the air passages, the skin and the eyes. Respiratory symptoms include coughing and wheezing, breathlessness, sputum (phlegm) production and chest pain. If symptoms occur, people should seek medical advice or call NHS 111."
They added that chemicals in the smoke could potentially worsen existing health problems, such as asthma, so those affected should be extra cautious.
Find out more about the fire at MID UK Recycling.