A worker suffered life-threatening injuries during his first day on the job, when he fell from the top of a tipper lorry.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Quick Skips & Recycling Ltd had been contracted to collect waste at a site in Acton, London owned by Bridgemarts Ltd, trading as Gowing & Pursey.
On 2 March 2010, two migrant workers who barely spoke English were training a 40-year-old man, who was on his first day working for Quick Skips & Recycling. The men also failed to provide him with any health and safety training.
The new recruit began loading waste into a tipper lorry at Gowing & Pursey’s yard so it could be transferred to another site. The waste was piled too high, so when an auto-sheeting device tried to close and cover the load, it jammed.
The worker climbed on top of the tipper unit and manually released the jam, which caused the sheet system to spring back and strike him. He fell three metres to the ground and suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung, and developed a blood clot in his head. He was unconscious in hospital for two weeks and has only recently been able to return to work.
The HSE investigated the incident and found both companies had procedures in place that prohibited workers from climbing up trucks. They also required staff to use a gantry at the site, which was fitted with harnesses, to access the top of vehicles. But neither company communicated this to the new worker and both failed to supervise the job.
As part of the investigation, an HSE inspector visited Quick Skips & Recycling’s premises in Wilesdon. During the visit, the inspector witnessed employees working inside a waste-sorting shed. While the men were inside, other workers unloaded additional waste by the door, blocking the exit.
There were also no systems in place to ensure vehicles and pedestrians were segregated in the yard.
HSE inspector Neil Fry said: “The Quick Skips employee could have died as a result of the fall, which would have been unbelievably tragic on his first day of work at the firm. All because of an incident that was entirely preventable and that would never have happened had both companies properly managed the safety risks.”
Quick Skips & Recycling appeared in court on 24 October and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 in relation to the incident. It also admitted breaching reg.7(1)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, for not ensuring workers could easily exit the shed, and reg.17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, for failing to ensure vehicles were safely organised in the yard.
In mitigation, the firm said it cooperated with the investigation and had no previous convictions. It also claimed the company was no longer trading.
At an earlier hearing on 11 July, Bridgemarts pleaded guilty to breaching reg.5 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £7000, with £1410 in costs.
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