The managing director of a Liverpool-based waste management firm has been jailed for eight months for breaching health and safety rules.
The case follows from the death of a worker in 2010 and the later operation of the machine involved in the fatality.
Jonathan Gaskell, of Gaskell’s (North West) Limited, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act in relation to the death of Polish national Zbigniew Galka.
His company was also fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £99,886.57, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) noted.
A statement from Gaskell said that the “short sentence had been anticipated for some time” and it is “of note that the judge in his sentencing remarks commented on the excellent safety procedures in place at Gaskells”.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the 2010 incident saw Mr Galka enter the baling chamber of the machine to clear a blockage of waste materials that had caused the machine to stop.
The machine automatically activated, and Mr Galka suffered haemorrhaging, shock and severe traumatic injury to both legs, and died on his way to hospital.
A joint investigation by the HSE and Merseyside Police found that the baler’s safety interlock system had been defeated two months earlier. “Poor maintenance” of the machine meant it required frequent operator intervention.
HSE inspectors then visited the site in July 2015 having been informed that the company was continuing to use the same machine with further critical safety systems on the baler being defeated, five years after Mr Galka’s death.
The HSE said the machine could be operated whilst the guarding was open, meaning it could still run and production could continue with the operator being put at serious risk of injury.
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Speaking after the hearing last week, HSE inspector Phil Redman said: “Firstly, our thoughts as ever, are with the family and friends of Zbigniew Galka. A great deal of time has passed since his tragic passing and we would like to publicly thank Zbigniew’s family for their patience throughout this complex investigation.
“This incident was completely avoidable and it is inconceivable that Gaskells continued to operate the same dangerous machine in the way it did for as long as five years after this incident.”
A company statement from Gaskell said that the two incidents were “isolated” and said it has an “excellent safety record” in its 28-year history.
“The short sentence had been anticipated for some time and it is of note that the Judge in his sentencing remarks commented on the excellent safety procedures in place at Gaskells,” the statement read.
It continued: “These were isolated incidents in a 28 year history and the company has both an excellent safety record and a reputation for providing a quality service to all our customers.
“We would like to reassure all our customers new and old that with the combination of Gaskells’ excellent and dedicated team, well-invested infrastructure, together with the business systems which are in place, the continued smooth running of the operation is guaranteed and the ongoing excellent service provided by Gaskells will continue without interruption.”
Source: letsrecycle.com General