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June 5, 2012

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Recycling firm fined £200,000 for loader fatality

A decision to allow an unsupervised, inexperienced 21-year-old worker to operate a poorly-maintained loader had fatal consequences, a court has heard.

Mark Bate, of Tipton, West Midlands, was killed instantly when the arm of a JCB skid-steer loader crushed his head on 12 June 2008. He had been driving the vehicle at SITA UK Ltd’s premises on the Coneygre Industrial Estate for three months without being properly trained.

On the day of the incident, he was working on his own to load scrap paper on to a conveyor. Once he had finished, he brought the load to a halt and raised the safety bar from across his lap to isolate the machine. But the vehicle failed to isolate and, as he leant out of the front of the vehicle, the loader’s arm fell and crushed his head against the machine, killing him immediately.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Bate had never received formal training or assessment in the use of the vehicle, and a self-employed maintenance engineer had also used it over several months with no training.

In addition, the court heard the loader had not been maintained in the eight months before the incident. It should have been serviced at least twice during this period.

Appearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 1 June, SITA UK was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £77,402, after pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974.

The company was also instructed to reimburse Mr Bate’s mother, Catherine Jones, £4450 in funeral costs. In a statement released via the HSE, she said: “Nothing and no one can bring Mark back but, four years on, we feel we are finally getting justice for what happened to him that day.”

Following the case, HSE inspector David Evans said: “Mark Bate was a young man who should have had a long life ahead of him. Instead, he was killed in an entirely avoidable tragedy. Despite knowing his lack of experience, SITA left him unsupervised to operate the loader. Furthermore, the vehicle was dangerous because it had not been properly maintained.

“The company’s risk assessment should have identified these issues but did not cover the use of this machine.”

In a statement following the hearing, SITA expressed its regret for Mr Bate’s tragic death. The firm added: “Mark was a well-liked and respected member of the team at Tipton and we would reiterate our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We acknowledge that this accident should have never happened and we continue to use the learnings from this to improve the health and safety of our employees.”

SITA UK has been prosecuted for health and safety failings in the past, most recently in 2010, when it received a £210,000 fine following an incident in which a lorry driver was crushed to death at a Northamptonshire landfill site.

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Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
11 years ago

I must say thay I agree with the theme of previous comments. This company is a classic example of a ‘veneer’ company; loads of impressive looking certificates on the wall and glossy brochures, but scratch through the micron thick surface coating and its all about revinue at any cost. Sadly, that cost appears to be the lives of its employees. I wonder if this company uses a calculation for likelyhood and severity of fines and business damage – vs- cost savings? Hmm; food for thought eh?

Andrew
Andrew
11 years ago

2 workplace fatailies in 4 years out of a workforce of 6000. That’s not very good odds; how many other RIDDOR incidents in that period?

Somebody is not taking safety even remotley seriously. They made £25k profit per employee in 2011. Shares are £12.65; when’s the shareholder AGM again?

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

They currently advertise for a Prosessing Manager for 73-85k – Not bad money in the present climate, they advertise for a supervisor for 19-22k.

Shows where their prioities lie perhaps?

Part of a huge muliti national organisation making billions, and this is not the first time they have been found lacking in a duty of care to a fatality.

With 6000 employees, they should prioritise Sec 2 & Sec 3 H&S compliance as diligently as they claim they operate to Environmental Standards.

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

But you fail to comprehend that they are leading industrial starlights, beacons of commerce and phylanthropy.

Have a look at thier web site and see the donations made, truely commendable.

If they spent as much on safety, would they be held in such high regard.

Sorry to repeat myself, but God Bless British Justice, my forfarthers fought and died for such justice (poor sod`s).

Bob
Bob
11 years ago

Extract from the SITA web page

We provide free education resources; education packs for teachers to use in class and our re:think website brings the subject of recycling and waste management to life for people of all ages.

Shame they did not extend the same education and information to the deceased?

They also brag about investment in technology, no menetion of maintaining it though.

Talk is cheap comes to mind.

Jimmy
Jimmy
11 years ago

Not long after this accident SITA were advertising for H&S Advisors at various sites around the UK, including the Midlands. The annual salary for the role was 21.5k, I think that shows how seriously they had taken the lack of Safety monitoring and training.

I fully agree with the earlier post, Environmental compliance comes way before statuatory H&S compliance for SITA, it’s a total disgrace.

Kenpatrick
Kenpatrick
11 years ago

“The HSE investigation found that he had never received formal training or assessment in the use of the vehicle, and a self-employed maintenance engineer had used it over several months with no training.And, the loader had not been maintained in the eight months before the incident.

Following the case, HSE inspector said:
“The company’s risk assessment should have identified these issues

Are the HSE really telling us that the way to pick up these fatal flaws is through Risk Assessment?

Mohammed
Mohammed
11 years ago

2ND OFFENCE.DIRECTORS SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE ACCIDENTS.BUSINESS SHOULD BE GIVEN NOTICE TO COMPLY WITH SHE IN FAILING TO DO SO THE BUSINESS MUST BE SHUT DOWN UNTIL IT COMPLIES.