The plant mechanic, employed by Countrystyle Recycling, was fixing the shredder on 7 October 2013. A metal plate forming the roof of the hammer drum – in which waste material is smashed into smaller pieces by hammers – had become detached.
Maidstone Magistrates’ Court heard the employee was kneeling on a conveyor belt inside the shredder when it restarted. He was thrown from the machine, fracturing his right leg and left arm.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to enforce the “safe stop” process, which should have been followed when using dangerous parts of machinery, and had allowed unchallenged poor practice to become the norm.
Countrystyle Recycling, which has waste management contracts with the Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Kent county authorities, was fined and ordered to pay £8,903 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
However, despite its guilty plea, the company was surprised by the level of the fine and is considering an appeal.
A spokesperson for Countrystyle Recycling told Resource magazine: “Following the submission of a guilty plea in this case, the company is surprised by the extent of the fine imposed which seems disproportionate to the circumstances of the offence and the actual harm suffered. Accordingly, the company is considering the possibility of an appeal with its legal advisers.”