Waste management company in Kent fined for breaching safety regulations… A worker at a waste management company in Kent lost a large part of his arm in an unguarded conveyor machine at a quarry in Kent.
The employee, originally from Latvia but living in Gravesend, was trying to clear a blockage in the conveyor system when the accident occurred on 20 December 2010.
The HSE investigation into the accident determined that the conveyor belt had not been functioning correctly in the days preceding the accident. It had been used to transfer waste into a sorting shed but the sorting process had become more problematic as the roller that was used to move the belt was blocked with stones and debris creating a vibrating and shuddering effect.
The accident victim attempted to remove the stones when he noticed the problem. However he failed to turn the machine off before starting to remove the stones and his left arm became trapped in the roller mechanism and was torn from his body with violent force. The accident left the man with just a quarter of his arm in place. He was immediately airlifted to hospital where doctors conducted emergency surgery on him but were ultimately unable to reattach his arm. He has not been able to return to employment since the accient.
The HSE was critical of the waste management company for not having safety guarding in place to prevent access to dangerous machine parts and also disapproved of the fact that the accident victim had not received necessary training on how to safely clear blockages prior to the accident.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £11,506 in costs.
HSE Inspector Andrew McGill spoke after the hearing:
“This was a horrific incident that was entirely preventable had appropriate guarding been fitted, and had Mr Golovacs been properly trained in how to clear a blockage.
“He knows to his cost that dangerous moving parts should be properly restricted when in operation, and isolated if access is required. However, it was the responsibility of Pinden Limited to ensure that happened – which it clearly didn’t on this occasion. Safe systems of work must be of paramount importance at all times.”