Fine Assessed in 'Horrific' UK Fatality

A British recycling company has been fined about $1.1 million and two individuals were given suspended prison sentences for the death of an employee who was pulled onto a conveyor and into an industrial waste shredder.

A British recycling company has been fined £880,000 -- about $1.1 million in U.S. dollars -- and two individuals were given suspended prison sentences in a case that a Health & Safety Executive inspector described as a "horrific fatality." A man working for Mid-UK Recycling Limited near Ancaster was cleaning near a conveyor when the recycling line started up and he was pulled onto the conveyor and into an industrial waste shredder.

HSE reported Nov. 10 that its investigation of the July 19, 2013, death showed that a fixed gate that fenced the area off and prevented access to the conveyor had been removed several weeks before the incident, which meant workers could freely gain access to the area. Management was aware the gate was not in place just days before the incident, and the company had failed to design a recycling line that was safe for those working on and around it, including separation of wheeled vehicles and pedestrians, HSE found.

Mid-UK Recycling Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, was fined, and was ordered to pay costs of £100,000, or about $130,000. Its managing director, Christopher Mountain, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was given a 20-week prison sentence suspended for two years and fined £50,000, while Alan Munson, former director of operations, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of Health and Safety at Work Act and was given a 20-week prison sentence suspended for two years.

"This horrific fatality could so easily have been avoided by simply installing and maintaining physical guards around conveyors and ensuring that safe working practices were in place. Employers should make sure they properly assess, apply, and maintain effective control measures to minimize the risk from dangerous parts of machinery," said Dr. Richenda Dixon, the HSE inspector.

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