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Recycling company fined £650,000 following death of elderly worker

31 October 2017

A clothing and textile recycling company has been prosecuted after an 89-year-old worker was fatally injured by a reversing delivery vehicle.

The Magistrates’ Court in Mansfield heard how on 26 April 2016 the woman, working for Savanna Rags International, 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 rear of the vehicle sustaining fatal injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) showed 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.

Savanna Rags International pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and Regulation 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The company was fined £650,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £3300.25.

Speaking after the hearing Aaron Rashad, HSE inspector, said “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks arising from the movement of vehicles and implement safe systems of work. This meant the company failed to put in place a number of simple safety measures including segregating vehicles and pedestrians and reducing the need for vehicles to reverse.

“Sadly, this is the most common cause of fatal injuries in this sector. HSE is currently in the middle of targeting waste and recycling premises with an inspection initiative that will look at certain activities to ensure effective management and control of risk.

“We are calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website. Every worker has the right to return from work safe in the knowledge that their employer takes their health and safety seriously.”