Recycling Firm Fined After Washing Machine Breaks Worker’s Back

Environcom has been prosecuted for safety failings after a worker was left with a broken back after being struck by a washing machine, which fell from a grabber.

Desmond Adlington, 48, of Grantham, suffered fractures to three vertebrae and a broken rib following the incident at Environcom England Ltd, Grantham, on 22 April 2013.

A washing machine, weighing 65-80kgs, became detached from a grabber and struck Adlington as he was walking several metres away.

He was taken to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham and then Grantham Hospital and had to wear a back brace for more than a year. He underwent an operation to repair the damaged parts of his spine and will require further medical interventions for the rest of his life.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive  (HSE), which prosecuted the company at Lincoln Crown Court.

Dr David Lefever, HSE – “This incident, which could easily have resulted in Mr Adlington’s death, was entirely preventable had the company maintained the pedestrian walkways previously required by HSE”

The court heard that a number of designated pedestrian walkways and entrances had been installed at the site following previous HSE enforcement related to workplace transport.

However, two of the key routes had since been allowed to fall into disrepair and weren’t being used due to overspill from the firm’s recycling activities.

Two Improvement Notices were served on Environcom at the time – one in relation to a safe system of work for the grabber machine, and the other for effective control, monitoring and review of measures to prevent risks to pedestrians from vehicle movements.

Environcom was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £16,286 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dr David Lefever said: “This incident, which could easily have resulted in Mr Adlington’s death, was entirely preventable had the company maintained the pedestrian walkways previously required by HSE.

“It is vital that pedestrians are separated from the dangers posed by vehicles. The company let the walkways become blocked so pedestrians had to use other routes, including the main vehicle entrance to factory.

“As a result of this, Mr Adlington has needlessly been left with serious injuries which will no doubt affect him for the rest of his life.”


 

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