Worker crushed under falling bales17 October 2012
A migrant worker suffered crush injuries when a stack of cardboard bales, each weighing a quarter of a tonne, collapsed and landed on him inside a waste-sorting shed in Somerset.
Aleksandras Fomenkouas, 40, was sorting waste when the incident took place at Cannington Enterprises Ltd’s facility in Cannington, on 8 September last year.
Mr Fomenkouas was separating plastic waste for use in the company’s anaerobic digester, while another employee was nearby unloading stacks of plastic carton bales with a forklift truck. During the unloading, an adjacent stack of cardboard bales became unstable and collapsed on top of Mr Fomenkouas, knocking him to the ground. He suffered multiple fractures to his legs and pelvis and has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.
The HSE visited the site and issued three Improvement Notices, which required the company to ensure workers were segregated from stacked materials, implement measures to separate vehicles and pedestrians, and create a safe system for stacking and de-stacking.
HSE inspector Ian Smart told SHP the company was required to prohibit employees from working near stacked materials unless they needed to directly access the stacks. It was also told to carry out a risk assessment and create a safe system of work to ensure the stacks were stable.
“This serious incident could have led to a fatality and was entirely avoidable,” said inspector Smart. "Stacks of baled material can become unstable and workers should not be near them. The stability of the stack is obviously crucial and needs to be regularly checked.”
Cannington Enterprises appeared at Taunton Magistrates’ Court on 12 October and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £7000 and ordered to pay £7614 in costs.
In mitigation, the company said it had complied with the enforcement notices by reorganising the way it stores waste materials, which has reduced the number of people working near stacks. The firm has no previous convictions.
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