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Recycling firm fined after worker’s foot is crushed

HSE prosecutes Countrystyle Recycling for failing to operate a safe system of working

COUNTRYSTYLE Recycling Ltd of Lenham, near Maidstone, Kent, have been fined £10,000 after a teenage worker with a promising career in motocross had his foot broken by a 16-tonne loading shovel.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the recycling firm for failing to operate a safe system of working at their Park Farm Close site, in Folkestone.

Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard that on 22 February 2010, Daniel Brown (19) was sorting waste at the recycling plant when a tyre of a 16-tonne loading shovel ran over his right foot, breaking 16 bones.

Mr Brown is still suffering with pain and arthritis and has had to give up a possible career in Motocross, having won races at national level and negotiated a potential sponsorship package. He cannot learn to drive for his car licence and has not been able to return to work.

The HSE investigation found there was no system in operation to ensure moving vehicles and pedestrians were segregated. Employees were simply told verbally to stay clear of manoeuvring vehicles.

An Improvement Notice was issued by HSE at an early stage of the investigation to segregate vehicles and pedestrians.

At the time of the incident it was raining and the windscreen wipers on the loading shovel were inoperative. The heater in the cab was broken so the windows tended to steam up, reducing visbility. The shovel also had a broken wing mirror, no reversing lights, no reversing CCTV or convex mirror and would not always go into gear. Moreover, a screwdriver was used to start it and the roof beacon and lights would regularly blow bulbs.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Stephen Green said: ‘The injured worker was lucky not to be killed as a result of this incident, which could have easily been avoided if the long list of failures with this vehicle and systems had been addressed earlier.

‘The HSE has plenty of helpful guidance that could have been followed, and if the company had implemented a safe system of work, segregating moving vehicles from pedestrians, then a young man wouldn’t have broken a bone for every tonne of weight that rolled over his foot – 16 in total. There is no excuse for not having a safe system of work in place.’

Countrystyle Recycling Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in relation to the incident. They were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,221 in costs.

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