Car Recycling Company Plead Guilty to Unsafe Work Practices

Donald Ward Limited, a recycling firm which trades as Wards Recycling, has been fined after Thomasz Hac, a worker at the company, sustained severe injuries when he came to be trapped in a car-crushing machine onJune 17, 2009. It is a car recycling company, so Mr Hac and his coworker were trying to unblock the fragmentiser which is a machine that crushes and shreds scrapped cars in order to be recycled.

The frameteiser stopped abruptly due to the blockage. Both workers went inside the machine and noticed that the blockage was due to a car that had become stuck in the upper part of the machine. Mr Hac was trapped by this car when it slid down and trapped him as he was attempting to clear the blockage.

Health and Safety Executive prosecution, Rubina Zaidi, stated that inadequate training had been provided to employees regarding the best method of getting rid of a blockage. She went on to say –

“The blockages happened around once a month and there was only one member of the team who was fully trained in the mechanics of the fragmentiser. He was on holiday and a deputy was not left in charge. This accident could have been prevented. Mr Hac should have been told that they were not to enter the machine.”

Mr Hac sustained serious crush injuries to his kidneys, spleen and liver. Furthermore, his shoulder blade and four ribs were broken. He subsequently spent four days in intensive care and five days on a hospital ward after the accident occurred. He returned to work afterwards, but has since left the company.

The HSE discovered that there was no safe system in place to clear blockages. The company was found guilty by Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court and was then ordered to pay a fine £20,000 and also costs of £19,970.

Wards Recycling has implemented changes to its working practices as a result of the accident. Unblocking the machine is now a three-person job, which makes it safer for all employees involved. Company spokesperson, David Travers QC, insisted that the company was aware of the severity of the incident. He stated –

“The guidelines were found to be inadequate and this has since been rectified, with a number of new measures being put in place.”

HSE inspector, Sarah Jardine, had this to say –

“The company should have foreseen the risks and devised a safe way of removing blockages that didn’t involve workers being put in the way of something that was likely to move. As a result of the company’s failings, a man has suffered terrible injuries.”