A young worker almost lost his arm when it became trapped in machinery at a recycling plant in Lancashire, a court has heard.
The 20-year-old employee, from Bolton-by-Bowland in Lancashire, broke his right arm in several places in the incident at Environmental Waste Recycling Ltd in Kelbrook on 7 August 2013.
The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today after an investigation found essential guards were missing from the machine and the firm had failed to assess the risks facing workers.
Preston Crown Court heard the employee had been working on a line which included a heavy-duty conveyor belt used to sort builders’ waste and recyclable materials from skips delivered to the Eden Works plant.
After returning from his lunch break, he switched the power to the machine back on. He then walked through an 80cm-wide gap by the side of the machine when his arm was caught by the roller under the conveyor belt and dragged in.
He called for help and one of his colleagues turned off the electrical supply but it took the emergency services 90 minutes to free him.
The employee was flown by air ambulance to Preston Royal Hospital where surgeons carried out extensive surgery to save his arm, which was badly broken and had lost a considerable amount of muscle tissue. He remained in hospital for almost a month. He has so far been unable to return to work.
The court was told the Environmental Waste Recycling had hired a health and safety consultant to carry out inspections of the site in November 2008 and June 2010. On both occasions, he produced reports highlighting the missing guards but the company failed to take any action.
Environmental Waste Recycling Ltd, of Colne Road in Kelbrook, was fined £46,000 and ordered to pay £3,671.30 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said:
“The injuries suffered by this young worker have had a massive impact on his life, and he still requires hospital treatment. He has been unable to return to work and relies on his parents and family for support.
“It’s shocking that Environmental Waste Recycling was first made aware of the missing guards by its own health and safety consultant nearly five years before the incident but it failed to act on this, even when the issue was highlighted again in 2010.
“The firm should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks facing workers, and fitted guards to prevent access to the rollers on the conveyor belt. Instead, it waited for an employee to be seriously injured before taking any action.”
Information on health and safety in the recycling industry is available at www.hse.gov.uk/waste.
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken…which are effective to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar.”
- Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: “Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.”