A South East recycling business has been handed a substantial fine after an incident in which one of its workers suffered life-threatening head injuries.
Magistrates heard that the 34-year-old, who was employed at Countrystyle Recycling Ltd, had instructed a colleague to use a telehandler to move paper at the company’s site in Maidstone, Kent.
The telehandler was left running while the cab was left unattended and the boom struck the man’s head. The blow caused serious brain injuries and the employee has not returned to work since this incident on 30 September 2015.
A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the firm had failed to suitably plan the management and oversight of workplace transport activities on site.
In addition, employees had not received the appropriate level of training in order to safely operate the telehandlers.
Countrystyle Recycling Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
It was fined £666,700 and ordered to pay an additional £8,424 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Bose Gabriel said: “This incident could have been prevented had Countrystyle planned this workplace activity beforehand and identified the risks associated.
“Duty holders must ensure they devise and carry out safe systems of work at all times. Workplace transport incidents are very serious and usually result in life-threatening injuries, as highlighted in this case.”
Lara Murray, a Palmers Associate and employment law expert, said: “More than two years on from the accident, the member of staff in question has been unable to return to work, which demonstrates the consequences of an incident such as this.
“The fact that the court imposed a fine of more than £600,000 shows how seriously cases of this nature are treated by the authorities. It is crucial that employers take the proper steps to comply with all relevant health and safety legislation.”
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