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Heavy fine after worker killed by loading shovel

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A UK recycling company has been fined more than £2 million (EUR 2.3 million) following the death of a worker.

Agency employee Dean Atkinson, 32, was killed by a loading shovel at Ward Recycling in Hartlepool in January 2020. He had been returning from the site’s welfare cabins to his workstation on the picking line. To do so, he had to cross a traffic area where mobile plant, including two loading shovels, were operating.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Ward Recycling failed to protect pedestrians. No suitable traffic management arrangements were in place, meaning pedestrians were at risk of being struck by moving vehicles. The HSE found that an area over 10 metres in front of the loading shovel could be obscured from the driver’s view.

‘Deterrent’

In December 2023, the company was found guilty of committing corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety regulations. In late January, it was fined £1.75 million for corporate manslaughter and £400 000 for breaching health and safety regulations. The judge acknowledged that the fine was unlikely be paid because the company went into liquidation in 2021. But he said the fine would be a deterrent to other companies.

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.’

Media reports of the court hearing said Ward Recycling was warned by the HSE about the lack of a traffic plan at a second site in 2018, two years before the Hartlepool fatality.

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