Birmingham skip hire death caused by 'dilapidated and ramshackle' equipment

A skip hire company in Birmingham has been fined £255,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a ‘dilapidated and ramshackle’ trommel.

Safi Khan, 29, had worked at Construction Product Skip Masters in the south Birmingham district of Tyseley for just four months before the incident on 22 January 2015.

Khan was working as a picker on the machine, which sorted waste collected in the company’s skips.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Khan would regularly approach the machine while it was operational and use a rake to push through material that had become blocked.

Khan became tangled in the machine. Though there were no witnesses the prosecution suggested that it was likely he had been trying to dislodge soil from the conveyor belt at the time. Birmingham Crown Court heard this week that he had suffered crush injuries to his head and upper chest.

Although ambulance crews arrived at the scene a spokesperson for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: “it quickly became apparent that nothing could be done to save the man and he was confirmed deceased at the scene.”

An investigation found that the machine had no guards and no emergency stop button, while the court also heard that steps leading up to it had no handrail, while workers had to walk along a path lined with gas bottles that could have fallen or exploded.

Construction Product Skip Masters went out of business shortly after Khan’s death. After admitting to corporate manslaughter and the breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act it was fined £255,000.

Former Director Jagbir Singh was also given a 12-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay £11,500 costs, made to do 300 hours’ unpaid work and was banned from being a company director for eight years.

Handing out the sentences, Judge Paul Farrer QC said: “As far as training is concerned there appears to have been none. Had there been a safe system of work or safe working practices, his death would not have taken place.

“The operation of this piece of equipment involved numerous fundamental breaches of health and safety requirements. This was literally an accident waiting to happen.”

Khan was one of 11 people fatally injured in the waste and recycling sector in 2014/15, a figure that rose to 14 in 2016/17. 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.

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

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.

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