Metal recycling firm fined after crane incident

Totternhoe Metal Recycling Limited (TMR) has been fined £12,000 after a worker was injured when trapped by a crane.

The worker, 40, who does not wish to be named, was delivering waste metal to the site when the counterbalance on a wheeled crane (such as that pictured) used for unloading metal hit the rear door of his transit van and trapped his left hand.

The man lost the top of his thumb and suffered damage to his hand and arm in the incident on 24 April 2014 at The Recycling Centre, The Lime Works, Totternhoe (near Dunstable).

Luton Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday (28 July) that despite skin grafts to his thumb, surgery to repair damage to his forearm, and months of physiotherapy, the man is still unable to use his thumb or grip anything with his left hand.

TMR was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,889.60 and a £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974.

The section reads: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer… to ensure, so far as is reasonable practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby re not exposed to risks to their health or safety.’

The investigation into the incident was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Lax vehicle safety causing many accidents across industry

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Emma Page said: “Totternhoe failed to put in place control measures to ensure adequate segregation of vehicles and pedestrians despite having identified and acted upon this issue at another site belonging to their sister company. Had they done so the injuries to this worker, which have left him affected both physically and emotionally could have been avoided.

“Where duty holders fall short of industry standards, HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who create the risk.”

Deaths in waste and recycling industry increasing

Page added that the accident rate within the waste and recycling industry remains “one of the highest in any industry”. Indeed, figures released by HSE earlier this month revealed that eleven people, including six members of the public were fatally injured in the waste and resources sector in 2014/15,.

This number constitutes a 120 per cent increase on the number of deaths reported in 2013/14, and the rise has largely been due to an increase in the number of members of the public being fatally injured at waste sites or by waste machinery.

In 2013, the body published the ‘Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) blueprint 2012-15’ to outline ‘immediate action points’ that employers can take to provide clearer training and safer workplaces.

It has also released guidance on how companies with sites containing pedestrians and vehicles can ensure they are kept safe for people using the area.

Read HSE’s ‘Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace in Great Britain 2015’.

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