£2.15 million fine for recycling company following ‘easily avoidable’ death of agency worker
A RECYCLING company has been fined £2.15million after an agency worker was killed by a loading shovel at a site in Hartlepool. Dean Atkinson lost his life when he was struck and run over by the vehicle at Ward Recycling Ltd’s premises at Longhill Industrial Estate in January 2020.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Stephen Garner said Mr Atkinson’s death could have been prevented had Ward Recycling implemented an alternative traffic route for pedestrians at the site on Windermere Road.
Mr Atkinson had been returning from the site’s welfare cabins to his workstation on the picking line. To do so, he needed to walk across a traffic area where mobile plant, including two loading shovels, operated. One of the loading shovels struck and killed Mr Atkinson when he was walking in the traffic area.
Mr Atkinson’s death prompted investigations by the HSE and Cleveland Police, with Ward Recycling later being prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Following a trial at Middlesbrough Crown Court last month, the company was found guilty of committing corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety regulations.
The HSE investigation into the incident found Ward Recycling, who went into liquidation in 2021, failed to protect pedestrians from the mobile plant operations they were carrying out at the site. There were no suitable traffic-management arrangements in place, meaning pedestrians were at risk of being struck by moving vehicles, including loading shovels.
Loading shovels are particularly dangerous if adequate segregation is not in place, in part due to the limitations to the operator’s visibility around the machine – a HSE visibility assessment found that an area more than 10m in front of the vehicle could be obscured from the driver’s view.
At Middlesbrough Crown Court on 26 January 2024, Ward Recycling Ltd were found guilty of breaching Section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, and Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £1.75 million for corporate manslaughter and £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.
HSE inspector Stephen Garner said: ‘This tragic incident could easily have been avoided if Ward Recycling had implemented simple control measures. Following the incident, it took the company less than a week to put in place an alternative traffic route to protect pedestrians.
‘Had this been in place before the incident, Dean Atkinson would not have lost his life. Sadly, pedestrians being struck by vehicles on waste sites has caused many fatal accidents and the industry should be well aware of the risks.’