Yorkshire recycling company fined £120,000 after man suffers severe injuries at work

A Yorkshire recycling company has been fined £120,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries in an incident in 2019.

The man was working at Wastecare Limited’s site in Halifax when batteries weighing at least 300kg fell onto him, leading to a double compound fracture to his lower right leg, a fracture to the left tibia, a fractured right collar bone, bruising to his ribs and a cut on his forehead.

He had been working with two other employees re-filling Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs) with batteries after one had toppled over. However, the containers began to rip apart, leading to the enormous amount of batteries falling onto him.

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An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Wastecare Limited had failed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees at work. It said the site was overstocked, bags of batteries had been stacked in an unsafe way, and there were no specific documented risk assessments or safe systems of work for the correct stacking and storage of batteries. During the course of its investigation, HSE found this was not an isolated incident.

Wastecare's site in Halifax.Wastecare's site in Halifax.
Wastecare's site in Halifax.

According to HSE guidance, FIBCs must not be stacked unless it is an FIBC which is designed to be stacked, and only then in a pyramid form or against two walls.

Wastecare owns and runs BatteryBack, a subsidiary which operates one of the largest battery compliance schemes in the UK. It services a number of major retailers in terms of used battery collections.

Wastecare Limited, of Normanton Industrial Estate, Normanton, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £4,937.39 in costs at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on 21 February 2024.

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HSE inspector Jackie Ferguson commented: “There are specific Industry Standards and Guidance relating to Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs) which provides users with information on a range of aspects relating to their use including filling, discharging, handling and storage.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing simple control measures and safe working practices to ensure the batteries were stacked safely and securely. The industry should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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