Man dies after Oldbury recycling plant explosion

A man has died after an explosion at a recycling plant in West Midlands town of Oldbury.

The man, who was in his 50s but has not yet been named, suffered serious burns in the explosion at Innovative Environmental Solutions just before 2am on Monday (7 August).

He was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham but later died from his injuries.

Two other men were taken to hospital with less severe burn injuries.

West Midlands Police today confirmed the incident, saying in a statement: ‘Three men were taken to hospital where sadly a man in his 50s passed away. Two men in their 30s and 40s remain in a stable condition.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman added: “At 1.43am on Monday we were called to a recycling plant in Oldbury. We sent three ambulances, a paramedic officer, the Hazardous Area Response Team, MERIT trauma doctor and critical care paramedic.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is now investigating how the incident occurred. A spokesman for the HSE said: “The HSE is aware of an incident and is in contact with emergency services.”

Innovative Environmental Solutions is a joint venture between US-based energy-from-waste company Chinook Sciences and European Metal Recycling (EMR) that processes material left over after end-of-life vehicles are shredded. The site uses a gasification process that turns wood and other organic material like carpet and foam into gas, leaving metal that can be recycled.

A spokesman for the company said: “Following the completion of a maintenance task, three people were injured in an accident. We are deeply saddened to say that one team member died later in hospital from his injuries.

“This is an extremely upsetting time for everyone involved and we will do everything we can to support his family and his work colleagues. The company and HSE are on site investigating the cause of the incident”.

Waste deaths up in 2016/17

The waste and recycling sector is one of the most dangerous in the country.

According to figures released by the HSE in July, the number of people fatally injured in the industry more than doubled between 2015/16 and 2016/17, with 14 people killed.

Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the past five years is ‘around 15 times as high’ as the all-industry rate. This makes it the second most dangerous industry, ahead of construction, whose rate is four times as high as the all industry rate, but less than the agricultural industry, whose rate is around 18 times as high.

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