Injury after unattended telehandler was left running

Once again a recycling company has made the news, again this is not for a good reason. This time the company was fined £666,000 after worker suffers head injuries after an unattended telehandler led to serious injury.

Countrystyle Recycling Ltd, a Maidstone based recycling company, was fined after a 34-year old worker suffered life-threatening head injuries. The Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 30 September 2015, the 34-year old employee of  Ltd instructed another colleague to use a telehandler to move paper at the company’s site in Maidstone, Kent. The telehandler was left running while the employee left the cab unattended. The boom of the telehandler was elevated and was lowered by another employee who entered the cab of the vehicle. The boom struck the head of the injured person as he was standing below this raised boom.

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Separation of People from Moving Vehicles

The lack of separation of people from moving vehicles was one of the reasons that an 89-year-old worker was fatally injured when struck by a reversing delivery vehicle. In too many workplaces that I visit, there is insufficient consideration given to this common, dangerous, controllable practice.

The Magistrates’ Court in Mansfield heard how on 26 April 2016 the woman, working for Savanna Rags International Limited, was walking from the weighbridge towards the smoking shelter in the rear yard during her afternoon break. A delivery vehicle driven by a visiting driver reversed from the weighbridge towards the rear yard to deliver goods when she was struck by the back of the vehicle sustaining fatal injuries.

During the course of its investigation, the HSE found that the company had failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks arising from vehicle movement. It was custom and practice for vehicles to reverse from the weighbridge, which was also used by employees to access the factory. There were no measures in place to adequately segregate pedestrians from moving vehicles, and there wasn’t a safe system of work in place to ensure that vehicles could manoeuvre safely.

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Surprise safety inspections for the waste industry

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned the waste industry that it can expect unannounced safety inspections at sites from 02 October. This warning came after the HSE advised businesses in the waste and recycling industry that “they must pay closer attention” to how they manage workplace risk. It is part of a “proactive review” of health and safety standards in waste and recycling businesses across the country.

In the recently published HSE sector plan for the waste and recycling sector, there is a targeted reduction in injuries and fatalities to waste workers caused by moving machinery. The main causes of fatal injuries to workers in the sector are thought to be collisions involving moving vehicles, coming into contact with moving machinery, or injury from collapsing or overturning objects.

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