September 28, 2018

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In Court

Waste management safety: Worker needed amputation after machine incident

Waste management and recycling company CP Environmental Limited has been sentenced after an employee sustained serious injuries to his foot while adjusting a waste shredding machine.

The machine involved was a waste shredding machine; the rotating drum inside the machine that shreds the waste is normally enclosed behind a door. In order to check the condition of the teeth on the drum or to check that that the teeth are not catching on the filter mesh below, the side door needs to be opened. This door opens and forms a horizontal platform. The employee was kneeling on this open platform and he used the remote control to rotate the drum. As the drum rotated, his foot was caught between the rotating shredder and the end of the open door, resulting in amputation of his big toe and part of another toe on his right foot.

The HSE’s investigation found a number of failings, namely that the company:

  • Failed to ensure that their employees had been trained to operate the machine safely;
  • Did not have any effective supervision in place to ensure that operators were following safe procedures;
  • Had no monitoring arrangements in place which may have highlighted to them that there were problems with the application of the systems of work, training and supervision. Had employees been trained to operate the machine safely they would not have been on the machine before testing the powered rotation of the shredder.

CP Environmental Limited pleaded Guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and have been fined £34,000 with costs of £19,226.35.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Mr David Keane said: “This incident could have easily been avoided and it was fortunate that the injuries suffered weren’t more serious. Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working, and to properly monitor and supervise those systems.”

Earlier this year, SHP reported that waste disposal has the highest fatality at work rate of any industrial sector.

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