Recycling Business Hit Hard After Employee Loses Leg

On 16th May 2023 the Health and Safety Executive through the vehicle of the Magistrates Court located in Saint Albans handed down a financial sanction to a commercial organisation which specialises in the provision of Recycling and Waste services in an amount which was in excess of thirty thousand pounds after a member of the workforce was involved in an accident whereby he collided with a telehandler which was proceeding in a reverse direction in mid-March 2022.  

What Happened In The Case?

The colleague at the center of the proceedings had been employed by the specialist recycling and waste business and was provided with responsibility for organising, classifying and categorising enormous quantities of products which had the potential to be recycled via hand. Whilst the member of the workforce was carrying out his day-to-day work related duties he appears to have been impacted by a commercial vehicle which had moved in the reverse direction and knocked his person to the ground. This on its own whilst sounding alarming was not the end of the matter for the member of the workforce as there was a causal link between the accident in the workplace involving his clash with the industrial vehicle and the decision by the professionals at the medical facility to remove the upper knee section of the leg of the right-hand side of his body via the provision of amputation surgery.      

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

This was only the start of the problems for the waste and recycling business as industry regulator the Health and Safety Executive felt compelled to launch an investigation into what had taken place at the time of the accident. When it did so it discovered evidence which tended to suggest that the waste and recycling business had neglected in its duty to sufficiently separate industrial vehicles from persons taking shank’s pony and operating on foot in the working environment. The regulatory authorities also commented on its observations that the commercial enterprise at the heart of the allegations had neglected in its duty to respond in a quick manner to implement remediation action after issues were identified when assessments as to the risk were conducted in the working environment.   

Feet to the Fire?

When the recycling and waste services business finally had itself brought to account in the St Albans Magistrates Court to its credit it held its hands up and entered admissions to allegations of violating Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 which places regulatory obligations on businesses employing members of the workforce operating on premises of a commercial nature to safeguard the welfare of persons who are not directly under their employment but utilise its working environment.  It found that the business had additionally contravened Regulation 5 which puts responsibilities upon businesses providing employment to ensure that the working conditions, tools and processes provided for the role are in a good condition, operating effectively and maintained.  

Lessons Learned?

Businesses need to mitigate the risk of a repeat performance by:
-    separating members of the workforce operating vehicles of a commercial nature from those providing their services via shank’s pony on foot
-    doing all they reasonably can do to comply with the legal standards
-    keeping a proper lookout when reversing commercial vehicles 
-    ensuring a safe distance is kept between themselves and members of the workforce in the vicinity of commercial vehicles and
-    assessing the risk of such incidents occurring. 
If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.   

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