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Student fell down inadequately-guarded waste chute15 October 2012
An overseas student, who worked part-time at a waste site, suffered minor injuries when he fell through a refuse chute.
Priyank Malik, 22, worked at Country Waste Management’s waste-transfer site in Croydon to support himself through a post-graduate diploma.
On 15 April last year, Mr Malik was walking towards his workstation, where he sorted waste products while they moved along a conveyor, when he noticed the walkway was blocked. He jumped over a 28-inch fence so he could walk down a gap between the conveyor and the fence. But he landed in a waste chute and fell four metres down to a storage bay. He escaped with only sprains to his back and neck.
The HSE investigated the incident and found the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment and put adequate controls in place to prevent workers from being able to fall down chutes.
During the investigation, HSE inspector Clare Hawkes saw a worker walking across the top of a high-sided vehicle without any edge protection. She issued an Improvement Notice to the company, which required it to put measures in place to protect workers from falls from height.
Inspector Hawkes said: “The company should have taken action to stamp out practices like crossing the openings of chutes and walking on top of loaded containers. If work at height cannot be avoided then physical low-cost and simple measures should be taken, such as erecting barriers or suitable edge protection to prevent falls from open edges. Employers should have clear site rules and ensure that they are enforced.”
Inspector Hawkes also learned that One51 Recycling ES UK (South) Ltd, trading as Country Waste Management, had received advice from the HSE in 2010 about its responsibility to control the risks of working at height. This followed a site visit by an HSE inspector who saw a worker walking across the top of a vehicle without anything in place to prevent a fall. The inspector also found unprotected holes in the floor of a high-access walkway.
One51 Recycling ES UK (South) Ltd appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 10 October and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.3 of the MHSWR 1999. It was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £6485 in costs.
In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and cooperated with the investigation. It has now raised the height of the fence so workers can’t jump over it.
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