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April 7, 2010

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Worker falls through poorly maintained guardrail

A waste management firm has been fined £12,000 after a guardrail gave way resulting in a worker falling nearly three metres.

Walsall and Aldridge Magistrates’ court heard that the incident took place at AB Waste Management Ltd’s facility in Darlaston, West Midlands on 16 June 2009. The worker was cleaning a crushing machine on what was only his second day working at the site.

He was standing on a platform, which that was attached to the top of the machine, when he leant on a guardrail. The railing gave way and he fell to the factory floor, and narrowly avoided falling into the machine. As a result, he broke his spine in two places, and suffered deep cuts to his head that required skin grafts.

AB Waste Management Ltd appeared in court on 6 April and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay £1836 in costs.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Gardabil Singh Tiwana said: “The worker was seriously let down by his employers, who failed to maintain the safety measures that were supposed to protect him. The employee could easily have been killed if he’d fallen into the crushing machine when it was in operation.

“It’s all very well installing a guardrail and other precautions, but if they’re not maintained and repaired properly then they are useless.

“All companies need to ensure guards supplied for their work activities are fit for purpose and, if the machine has a maintenance log, that the log should be kept up to date.”

When contacted by SHP, AB Waste Management said it wasn’t “interested in commenting on the incident”.

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