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LOADING SHOVEL FATALITY PROMPTS LARGE PENALTY

Company prosecuted over failure to segregate people and vehicles

European Metal Recycling Limited has been ordered to pay more than £370,000 in fines and prosecution costs after a workman died because of a failure to properly segregate people and moving vehicles.

Linas Mataitis, aged 25, was struck by the bucket of a wheeled loading shovel at EMR’s site in London during a shutdown clean-up in July 2010. He sustained fatal injuries when pushed and pinned against a steel column by the vehicle.

Southwark Crown Court heared (20 May) that Linas joined the company two months earlier and was working near a large shredding machine under annual maintenance. He was one of a team of workers using hand shovels to scrape and clear dirt near conveyors

Three three vehicles were operating alongside the team on foot; a bobcat, a mini excavator and a wheeled loading shovel. The smaller machines were being used to fill the loading shovel bucket. The court heard that the loading shovel struck Linas and crushed him against a conveyor support.

The EMR procedure for clearing dirt from around the conveyors did not cover the shutdown operation when more vehicles were operating nearby and when there was increased pedestrian movement. The arrangements for managing the movement of people and machinery safely were inadequate.

The loading shovel was being driven by a partly trained operator who may have been unauthorised to use it. The company had “confusing and conflicting records” highlighting failure to manage and audit training and supervision properly.

Risk assessment not a ‘one size fits all paper exercise’

European Metal Recycling Limited, of Warrington, Cheshire, was fined a total of £300,000 and ordered to pay a further £72,901 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Wolfenden said:

“Linas’ tragic death was entirely preventable. European Metal Recyclings should have been fully aware of the clear risks presented by vehicle and pedestrian movements.

A risk assessment isn’t a paper exercise where a ‘one size fits all’ approach is acceptable, and the company should have properly planned for the shutdown operation where the level of risk was significantly increased –implementing safe systems of work to suit.

The same can be said for training, instruction and supervision, where there was no clear direction or protocol for monitoring new or inexperienced workers.

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