Firm sentenced after workers trapped in trommel
Company, director and manager sentenced after employee dies and another suffers serious injuries
A WASTE-recycling firm along with its director and site manager have been sentenced after an employee died and a second employee was seriously injured when they became trapped inside a trommel screen.
Durham Crown Court heard how, on 12 December 2015, Simon Hogg and Raymond Garrett were operating a waste-processing line at Stonegrave Aggregates Ltd’s Aycliffe Quarry, near Newton Aycliffe, in Co. Durham, when the line became blocked at various points, including inside a large trommel.
The two employees stopped the trommel and entered the drum to clear the blockage. While they were inside the drum, two other employees, who were unaware anyone was in the machine, restarted the production line. Mr Hogg and Mr Garrett were trapped inside the revolving trommel drum for approximately four minutes before the line was stopped.
Sadly, Simon Hogg died at the scene after sustaining multiple injuries to his head and torso, whilst Raymond Garrett sustained multiple serious injuries to his legs, arms and torso, and required extensive hospital treatment.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was a history of blockages occurring on the waste-processing line, with operators regularly having to enter the trommel to clear materials.
The investigation also found the line was not adequately guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machinery, and that control systems, including emergency stops, were not compliant with relevant standards.
Moreover, management did not adequately monitor or enforce machinery isolation procedures, and CCTV showed that what guarding was provided on the trommel was regularly being bypassed by staff, including the site manager.
Stonegrave Aggregates Ltd, who pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, were fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £48,952.
Bruce Whitley, director of Stonegrave Aggregates Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 37 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was given a 12-month community order.
Site manager David Basham also pleaded guilty to breaching sections 37 and 33 of the Health and Safety etc. Work Act 1974. He was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Michael Kingston said: ‘These tragic consequences could have been avoided. This case highlights the importance of implementing effective power isolation procedures when interacting with machinery and the need to monitor compliance to make sure these procedures are followed.
‘The HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies or individuals who fail to implement and monitor safe systems of work.’