Valencia Waste Management, formerly known as Viridor Waste Management, has been fined a total of £3 million following the deaths of two workers in separate incidents.
Michael Atkin, 63, and Mark Wheatley, 31, died following incidents in 2019 and 2020.
Atkin was fatally crushed by a wastepaper bale weighing at least 820kg that fell from a lorry at Viridor Waste Management’s Grendon Road site in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, on 10 October 2019.
The 63-year-old, an HGV driver employed by RT Keedwell, had been working at the site with a Viridor employee who was using a forklift truck to load Atkin’s lorry with rows of the bales.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found it was not custom and practice at the site for bales to be loaded onto lorries by forklift truck operators at the same time the lorry driver was strapping bales which had previously been loaded onto the lorry flatbed.
Mark Wheatley died following an incident on 17 January 2020 at the Dartmoor National Park Conservation Works depot in Bovey Tracey, Devon.
Wheatley died after being struck by an overbalanced skip which fell onto him. Wheatley had been using a lorry to lift two skips at the same time; however, the skips fell at an angle onto the back of his lorry. Wheatley’s parents arrived at the scene of the incident following a phone call from their son asking for help.
An HSE investigation found Valencia Waste Management Limited had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the skip operations so safe systems of work and appropriate training were not implemented and skips were not maintained in an efficient state.
These were two men at different stages of their lives, but the grief and pain across both families is devastating.
Alan Hughes, senior enforcement lawyer at HSE, commented: “These were two men at different stages of their lives, but the grief and pain across both families is devastating.
“Both deaths were avoidable. More needs to be done to make the use of vehicles on waste and recycling sites safer. We have a wealth of advice and guidance freely available.”
Following the incident on 10 October 2019, Valencia Waste Management Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £1 million at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court.
Following the incident on 17 January 2020, Valencia Waste Management Limited pleaded guilty and was fined £2 million.