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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
February 5, 2014

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£150,000 in fines and costs after worker crushed by waste

A Redditch recycling company has been sentenced for safety failings after a worker was killed by a bale of waste weighing more than a tonne. The 43-year-old from Canvey Island, Essex was crushed when a five-metre high stack of bales fell on him as he walked past, killing him instantly.

The incident occurred at R&S Recycling Ltd in Beoley on 11 February 2011.

An investigation by the HSE into Kenneth Swaby’s death established that R&S Recycling failed to properly control the risks to employees working at the site, particularly with regard to the proper storage and safe stacking of waste materials.

Worcester Crown Court heard on 4 February that stacks of unstable material, such as baled paper and plastic, should slope backwards towards the top, and the bales should be interlocked to prevent them from falling. The stability of the stack should be checked regularly, and where bales can fall, workers on the ground should be kept well clear.

On this occasion, HSE found that the stacks of bales were uneven and too high, with no measures in place to prevent employees approaching them on foot.

R&S Recycling Ltd, of Bransons Cross Farm, Beoley, Redditch was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £57,927 after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 10 (4) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after sentencing, HSE Inspector Jan Willets, said:”Mr Swaby’s tragic death could have been prevented had R&S Recycling Limited made simple and adequate provisions to protect employees working with and alongside stacks of baled waste.

“The risks from materials falling from storage at height are clear, and there are necessary procedures for the safe management of bales in stacks. Yet on this occasion, Mr Swaby was able to walk right next to these unstable bales, with devastating consequences.”

Speaking to SHP, managing director at R&S Recycling Ltd Stephen Walker, said:  “We regret what has happened and offer our condolences to the family. Things have improved since to ensure that nothing like this will happen again”. 

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