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Recycling firm fined after worker crushed

21-05-2013

Photo shows the conveyor support beam Linas Mataitis was crushed against

A worker at one of the world’s largest metal recycling firms was killed because of a failing to properly segregate people and moving vehicles, a court has heard.

European Metal Recycling Limited, which operates across Europe, Asia and the Americas, was (on 20 May) ordered to pay more than £370,000 in fines and costs for its safety failures after also accepting shortcomings linked to training, instruction and supervision.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after Linas Mataitis, 25, from Mitcham, was struck by the bucket of a wheeled loading shovel at EMR’s site on Scrubs Lane, Willesden, during a shutdown clean-up on 18 July 2010.

He sustained fatal injuries after being pushed and pinned against a steel column by the large, heavy vehicle.

Southwark Crown Court was told Linas had joined the company two months earlier as a temporary worker.

He 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.

Linas was one of a team of workers using hand shovels to scrape and clear dirt near conveyors feeding the shredder, which they placed into piles for colleagues using machines to clear.

On the morning of 18 July there were three vehicles 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 bucket of the loading shovel, which then drove away to be emptied.

The court heard the loading shovel was returning to be refilled for a fourth time when it struck Linas and crushed him against a conveyor support.

A subsequent HSE investigation found that although EMR had a documented procedure for clearing dirt from around the conveyors, which mentioned the use of a bobcat, 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.

HSE also established that 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 in this regard, highlighting failings to properly manage and audit training and supervision.

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

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