The U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that European Metal Recycling Ltd. (EMR) has been ordered to pay more than £370,000 in fines and costs for its safety failures after accepting shortcomings linked to training, instruction and supervision that resulted in the death of an employee.
The HSE says that the company’s failure was not properly segregating people and moving vehicles.
EMR was prosecuted by the HSE after Linas Mataitis was struck by the bucket of a wheeled loading shovel at EMR’s site on Scrubs Lane, Willesden, during a shutdown clean-up on July 18, 2010. He sustained fatal injuries after being pushed and pinned against a steel column by the large, heavy vehicle.
Mataitis was working near a large shredding machine that had been powered down for essential annual maintenance, with surrounding safety zones and interlocking gates opened up to allow worker and vehicle access. While he was using shovels to clear dirt near a conveyor he was hit by a vehicle and crushed against a conveyor support.
An HSE investigation found that although EMR had a documented procedure for clearing dirt from around the conveyors, which mentioned the use of a loader, it did not cover the shutdown operation when the safety gates were open, when more vehicles were operating nearby and when there was increased pedestrian movement. As such, there were inadequate arrangements for safely managing the movement of people and machinery, according to HSE.
HSE also established that the loading shovel was being driven by a partly trained operator who may have been unauthorized to use it. The company had confusing and conflicting records in this regard, highlighting failings to properly manage and audit training and supervision.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Wolfenden said, "Linas’ tragic death was entirely preventable. European Metal Recycling, as one of the world’s largest recycling companies, should have been fully aware of its health and safety duties, and 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.