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*UPDATE* 'Helpful' worker lowered boom on colleague's head

Resource recovery firm Countrystyle Recycling has been fined £666,700 after an employee sustained life-threatening head injuries when a raised telehandler’s boom was lowered on him at the company’s paper, cardboard and plastics baling facility.

The penalty is the company’s second six-figure fine in just over a year. In October 2016, it was fined £300,000 after a worker was injured while repairing a shredder (bit.ly/2BfhnDO).

After the latest incident a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the 34-year-old employee had instructed a colleague to use a telehandler to move paper at the company’s Maidstone site on 30 September 2015. The telehandler was left running with the boom elevated while the employee left the cab.

As the instructing employee was standing close to the telehandler, another employee entered the cab and lowered the boom which struck the worker’s head.

HSE inspector Bose Gabriel told IOSH Magazine the worker had lowered the boom to be helpful. He thought his colleague had forgotten to park the telehandler safely. However, the worker was not trained nor was he certified to operate the vehicle.

The investigation found that Countrystyle Recycling had failed to sufficiently plan the management and oversight of workplace transport. The firm had also failed to provide the appropriate level of training for employees to operate telehandlers safely.

Countrystyle Recycling pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court on 12 December. It also pleaded guilty to breaching reg 17(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The company was ordered to pay £8,424 in costs.
The HSE had reported that the worker has not been able to return to work since the incident.

However, the company disputed this. Stuart Butler-Gallie, director of legal and admin at Countrystyle Recycling, said: “The company has fully supported and paid the injured party since the accident in 2015, and despite the [HSE’s] comment, it was made clear to the district judge that the injured party’s recovery is such that he is engaged in a fortnightly return to work sessions and has a role earmarked for his return within the administration of our paper/card recycling operation.”


Nic Warburton is acting editor, IOSH Magazine

 Nick Warburton was previously acting editor of IOSH Magazine. Before that he was editor of SHP and he has also worked on Local Authority Waste and Recycling and Environmental Health Practitioner

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