A waste recycling company, its director, their and site manager have been sentenced after the death of an employee and life-changing injuries of a second employee when they became trapped inside machinery.
Mr S Hogg and Mr R Garrett were operating a waste processing line at the Aycliffe Quarry site of Stonegrave Aggregates Ltd in County Durham, Durham Crown Court was told. The machinery became blocked at various points including inside a large industrial trommel machine. The trommel incorporates a large perforated revolving drum, which acts to agitate, rotate and sieve the waste materials. The accident happened on 12th December 2015.
The two employees stopped the trommel and entered the drum to clear the blockage with no isolation procedure in place. While they were inside the trommell two other operatives, who were unaware that they were inside the machinery, restarted the production line. Mr Hogg and Mr Garrett remained inside the revolving trommel drum for approximately four minutes before the line was stopped and the two men were found crushed inside.
Simon Hogg died at the scene after sustaining multiple head and torso injuries. Raymond Garrett sustained multiple serious injuries to his legs, arms and torso requiring extensive hospital treatment.
The HSE’s investigation found there was a history of similar issues with the trommel jamming on the waste processing line, with employees regularly having to enter the trommel to clear blockages. The line was not adequately guarded to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery. Control systems, including emergency stop controls, were not compliant with relevant health and safety standards, and site management did not adequately manage or enforce machinery isolation procedures. CCTV showed that the guarding provided to the trommel was being regularly bypassed by staff, including the site manager David Basham.
Stonegrave Aggregates Limited of Aycliffe Quarry, Newton, Aycliffe, Durham 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. They were fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £48,952.
Director of Stonegrave Aggregates Limited Bruce Whitley of Oakwood Drive, Darlington pleaded guilty to breaching section 37 and section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was given a 12-month community order.
The Site manager for Stonegrave Aggregates Limited Aycliffe Quarry site David Basham of Devonport Gardens, Middleton One Row, Darlington pleaded guilty to breaching section 37 and section 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.
“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies or individuals who fail to implement and monitor safe systems of work.”