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August 16, 2012

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Waste firm failed to assess site-transport risks

A worker suffered groin injuries when he was crushed between a skip and a reversing vehicle at a waste site.

Ryan Owen, 23, was working as a waste sorter at Rugeley Environmental Waste Services Ltd’s premises in Rugeley, Staffordshire when the incident took place on 5 September 2011.

He was removing contaminants, including wood and plastics, from a skip containing rocks. While he was leaning over the skip, a skid loader reversed into him and pinned him against the container. He suffered soft-tissue injuries to his groin and was airlifted to hospital.

The HSE’s investigation found the vehicle was being used to transport materials across the site, and was operating in a relatively confined space. The company failed to carry out a risk assessment for workplace transport and there were no measures in place to separate vehicles and pedestrians.

The HSE issued an Improvement Notice, which required the company to carry out a risk assessment of its workplace-transport activities. HSE inspector Wayne Owen said: “It is vital that risk assessments are carried out where vehicles are involved and suitable control measures put in place to prevent incidents such as this.

“This company had a poor and unsafe system of work. Had the company segregated vehicles and personnel, a man would not have suffered a painful injury.”

Rugeley Environmental Waste Services appeared at Stafford Magistrates’ Court on 15 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £5000 and ordered to pay £4306 towards costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it has subsequently chained off areas where vehicles operate to create a safe pathway for pedestrians. It also now carries out fewer vehicle movements at the site. The company has no previous convictions.

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