North East recycling company fined £35k after vehicle injuries employee

A waste recycling company based in the North East was fined £35,000 on Friday following a workplace accident in September 2016 that left an employee seriously injured.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee of Skippy Waste Services Ltd, based in Stockton-on-Tees, was walking along the road between the company’s warehouse and workshed on 30 September 2016, when he was run over by a reversing telehandler. The incident resulted in the employee sustaining multiple injuries, including four breaks in his left leg.

The ensuing investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that measures put in place to ensure the safety of employees on foot from the risks associated with moving vehicles were inadequate, with a lack of physical measures, such as pedestrian walkways, along with insufficient management arrangements to control vehicle movements identified as areas of particular concern.

Skippy Waste Services Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £1,852.76 in court costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Lucas said: “The fatal injury rate in the waste industry is around 15 times greater than the all-industry average and the biggest cause is workplace transport.

“This incident could so easily have resulted in yet another death and could have been prevented by the company implementing simple measures, such as the pedestrian walkways which it put in place afterwards. This should serve as a lesson to others in the waste industry about how they should effectively control workplace transport risks to prevent others seriously injured or killed.”

The waste and recycling sector is statistically one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK, with 14 people being fatally injured in workplace accidents in 2016/17, more than double the previous year’s six deaths, while an average of 5,000 workers in the industry have sustained injuries and 6,000 have suffered from work-related illnesses every year since 2009, according to figures by the HSE.

In a bid to improve these figures, the HSE has created a sector plan based on furthering engagement with and promotion for the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum, a multi-party group of organisations representing the waste and recycling industry which provides easy access to waste related health and safety guidance, with the latest guidance on monitoring waste collections released in June.