Bakers Waste Services fined after serious baler injury
A waste recycling firm has been ordered to pay more than £15,500 for safety failing after a worker suffered severe injuries after being crushed by an unsafe cardboard baler in January.
The 22-year-old, who asked not to be named, was clearing a blockage from the machine at Bakers Waste Services Ltd’s Enderby site near Leicester on 27 January 2014, when his left leg became trapped between the static framework and moving bed.
Firefighters who were called to the accident needed three hours to free him from the machine.
The man required three operations to insert metal rods and screws between his knee and ankle, and needed skin and muscle grafts. In some parts of his leg the bones were so badly damaged they are now missing.
Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (26 March) how the man inadvertently activated the baler while clearing the blockage, as there was no safe system of work for safely isolating the power supply.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, also found that the company had failed to maintain guards and other protective devices on the baler. The guards present did not close properly, the court heard, meaning interlocking devices and the electrical control circuit of the machine were not properly activated.
Bakers Waste Services was therefore fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,577 after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Accident ‘entirely preventable’
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 a 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.”
Waste sector ‘one of the most dangerous’
Injuries and deaths in the waste sector are not uncommon, and the HSE has branded the industry as ‘one of the most dangerous’ sectors to work in.
Indeed, earlier this month (4 March), Mekatek Ltd, the operator of a waste treatment facility in Carmarthen, was fined £55,000 after an HSE investigation found a number of serious health and safety issues at the site in Johnstown.
In February, South Lakeland District Council was ordered to pay fines and costs of £170,000 for safety failings after two women were killed by rubbish trucks in one year.
In an attempt to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries in the waste and recycling industry, the HSE published a ‘Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) blueprint 2013-15’ introducing initiatives to improve safety standards across the sector.
Find out more about the WISH blueprint.