Arrow Recycling handed six-figure fine after worker left in coma

West Midlands recycling company Arrow Recycling Ltd has been fined £160,000 after a worker was left in a coma when he was crushed by a falling stack of baled cardboard.

Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court heard last week (23 March) how Parvez Ahmed, 49, was left fighting for his life after around 400 kilogrammes of stacked cardboard fell on him, leaving him with a cracked skull and a brain haemorrhage.

Ahmed, who had been working on the recycling site in Smethwick in the West Midlands, was placed into an induced coma for 10 days as a result of the incident, which took place on 22 April 2016.

Arrow Recycling recycles post-industrial waste plastics, buying and selling various polymers and using a network of plastics recyclers to convert material into products like bin bags and moulding grade pellets. The company also collects and recycles cardboard from the public and private sector.

Arrow Recycling handed six-figure fine after worker left in coma
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Arrow Recycling had failed to establish a safe way to stack the bales, which resulted in the unstable and overly heavy bales that led to the collapse.

The company, based on Cornwall Road, Smethwick, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay additional costs of £2,917.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mahesh Mahey said: “This incident highlights the need for employers to devise and implement safe systems of work in relation to storage of baled materials. If the company had safe systems of work in place, Mr Ahmed would not have been seriously injured.”

Dangers of the waste industry

The waste industry is one of the most dangerous in the UK. Six workers in the waste industry died in workplace incidents in 2015/16 according to the HSE, taking the figure for the last five years to 30. In that time, there have also been 12 fatal injuries to members of the public arising from waste sector activities.

The fatal injury rate in the industry over the past five years is 5.1 per 100,000 workers, the second highest for any single industry in the UK after agriculture and forestry (8.98).

The number of non-fatal injuries is also significantly higher than average, with around 4.6 per cent of workers in the industry sustaining a workplace injuries between 2009/10 and 2015/16, compared to the all-industry rate of 2.0 per cent.

Last month the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum, a multi-party group established to provide information and identify good health and safety practice, launched a new website to provide health and safety guidance to local authorities and businesses in the waste management industry.

The new WISH site, which has been designed to enable easier navigation, hosts both formal guidance documents and other resources, including best practice case studies.

The new WISH Forum site can be found at

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