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Catalogue of safety failings by Rotherham recycling firm
A recycling company in Rotherham displayed "a blatant disregard" for the safety of 120 workers by failing to protect them properly against dangerous parts of cutting and crushing equipment.
The Health and Safety Executive uncovered a catalogue of safety breaches during an inspection of the Universal Recycling Company site in Wharf Road, Kilnhust, Mexborough, in May 2010. The HSE found failings both in the yard and in the machine shop and had to return for a second day to complete the investigation.
There were so many apparent failings at the facility that inspectors took immediate enforcement action, issuing three Prohibition Notices to halt further work in some areas. Two Improvement Notices were later served giving the firm time to take effective remedial action.
The investigation exposed several examples where there were no or inadequate safeguards in place to prevent access to dangerous or moving parts of machinery, including chopping machines, shredding and crushing machinery, conveyors, pulleys, chain drives and belts and rollers.
Rotherham Magistrates' Court heard that London Wiper Company of Kettering, Northants, trading as Universal Recycling Company, failed to comply with the two Improvement Notices by August 2010, despite being granted an extension.
The HSE, which brought the prosecution, told the court that when the site was visited again, there were still several instances of inadequate guarding against access to dangerous machine parts. There were also trapping points from exposed drive belts and pulleys. Some guards put in place were ineffective and one was held in place by a rope.
Inspector Denise Fotheringham said after the hearing:
"Universal Recycling Company has shown a blatant disregard for the law and for the safety of its workers. The company was given every opportunity to comply with the requirements of the Improvement Notices and it did not do so. It was provided with detailed verbal advice, a letter and photographs highlighting areas requiring improvement, given an extension of time and further advice.
"Enforcement notices are issued for a reason and HSE will not tolerate non-compliance - we will prosecute. Failure to guard machines to acceptable standards results in disabling and even fatal incidents every year."
The London Wiper Company pleaded guilty to two offences of charges of non-compliance with an Improvement Notice and was fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs.
The combined fatal and major injury rate in waste and recycling is more than four times the average across all industries. Three people were killed and a total of 530 major injuries to employees in waste and recycling were reported in 2009/10. A further 2,100 plus injuries were reported keeping workers off for more than three days.
16th February 2012