A recycling company has been fined £200,000 after a 21-year-old employee died from head injuries at its paper baling site in Tipton.
On the day of the incident, the employee had been working on his own to load scrap paper onto a conveyor. After finishing the job, he stopped the loader and raised the safety bar from across his lap to isolate the machine, before leaning out of the front of the vehicle. However, the machine failed to isolate, the loader’s arm dropped and crushed his head against the machine, killing him immediately.
HSE’s investigation found that the employee had not been formally trained, assessed or supervised in the use of the vehicle and a self-employed maintenance engineer had also used it over several months with no training.
It was also found that the loader had not been maintained in the eight months before the incident. It should have been serviced at least twice during this time.
HSE inspector David Evans said:
"Mark Bate was a young man who should have had a long life ahead of him. Instead, he was killed in an entirely avoidable tragedy.
"Despite knowing his lack of experience, SITA left him unsupervised to operate the loader. Furthermore, the vehicle was dangerous because it had not been properly maintained.
"The company’s risk assessment should have identified these issues but did not cover the use of this machine.
"Transport at work is one of the biggest causes of deaths in the workplace, often through insufficient training or poorly maintained vehicles. There is no excuse for such basic failings, especially as free advice is available from HSE."
The company was also ordered to pay costs and reimburse the employees family of funeral expenses.
The tragedy could have been prevented had his employers provided him with formal training and supervision in respect of the use of the vehicle. Employers are also legally obliged to make sure that work equipment, including vehicles, is in good working order. It is important that vehicles are maintained so that they remain mechanically sound. Preventive maintenance is also needed to help avoid failures during use. This should be thorough, regular and frequent enough to meet the manufacturer's guidelines and working practice.
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Mofozzul Hussain LLB (Hons) -Office Manager and Personal Injury Solicitor