Recycling firm sentenced over worker’s arm injury

A waste and recycling company has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered crush injuries when his arm was caught in an unguarded moving conveyor belt at a site in Essex.

The 30 year-old employee of GBN Services Ltd, who does not wish to be named, was working at their Harlow premises at Maple River Industrial Estate when the incident happened on 29 May 2013.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court was told today (19 June) that the worker was attempting to realign the in-feed conveyor belt on a newly-installed waste separating machine. Power to the machine had been turned off and a protective guard removed to enable access to the belt.

However, after finishing the task, the worker reactivated the power to the machine and his left arm was drawn in between the two belts. He suffered crush injuries but has now returned to work part time on light duties.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found GBN Services Ltd, which has five recycling sites in the South East, had failed to implement its own isolation and lock-off procedures at the Harlow site.

Following its investigation into the incident, HSE inspected the GBN site in Southend and had to issue three Prohibition Notices immediately halting dangerous activity, plus a notice requiring specified improvements. In addition, the court was told the company had previously been served with a number of enforcement notices, including one for a similar guarding failing at a London site.

GBN Services Ltd of Broomfield Road, Chelmsford, Essex was fined £28,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,777 after pleading guilty to breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Corinne Godfrey said:

“Incidents involving unguarded machinery are all too common and the onus is on employers to ensure safe and robust systems of work are in place to protect workers from dangerous moving parts of machinery. GBN Services failed to heed previous advice from HSE relating to conveyor guarding at its other sites.

“There are several deaths and 40,000 injuries each year due to incidents where workers have been using machines, and most of these are easily prevented. Guards and safety systems are required for a reason, and companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they up to scratch and working effectively at all times.

“In this case, it was not even necessary to remove the conveyor guard to adjust the belt as the design meant the belt could be adjusted with the guard still in place. However, the worker was not aware as staff had not been trained to repair or maintain the machine.”

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Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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.
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
  3. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states:  “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) which are effective (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at

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