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Recycling plant fined £50,000 after our client loses hand in conveyor belt

  • Jun 18, 2015
  • EmmaArnold

A Merseyside recycling plant was today fined £50,000 at Liverpool Crown Court after an employee lost his hand following an accident at work.

On 26th January 2014, Philip Grace, a 43 year old father of a young son, was injured whilst working at Recresco Ltd, a glass recycling plant in Ellesmere Port. This came less than four years after the tragic death of 29 year old Ian Aliski whilst he was driving a forklift truck at the same plant.

Philip Grace said:

I’m pleased the prosecution has now come to an end and I hope that Rescresco will continue to improve its safety standards so that none of my former colleagues will go through what I have.

Philip was working at the plant as a fabricator welder through an agency, when he was asked to repair a vibrating block on a hopper machine perched amongst moving conveyor belts.

A team leader and a manager, employed by Recresco, told him that they were not prepared to stop production and isolate the plant whilst he carried out the repairs.

As Philip was working under the conveyor, his right hand snagged in the belt and it was pulled into a tail roller, causing his hand to be severed. Some months earlier safety guards around the conveyor belts and the tail rollers were removed.

Phil was rushed to Whiston Hospital but unfortunately medics were unable to re-attach his severed limb. He has been left with his right arm amputated below the elbow and he has been provided a functional prosthesis from Aintree hospital.

Richard Edwards, Senior Solicitor at PotterReesDolan, said:

No fine will ever come close to truly reflecting the severity of what has happened in cases as serious as this because the courts must take into account a wide range of policy factors, but overall the level of fine is high and this accords with the court’s view that the safety standards at Recresco fell far short of what should have been in place and that the failings were significant.

Phil, an avid supporter of Everton FC, used to enjoy going swimming with his eight year old son, Edward, playing table tennis with him and going on bike rides. He was also a keen golfer but unfortunately, due to the accident, he can no longer enjoy these activities.

Recresco Ltd pleaded guilty to breach of health and safety regulations at Liverpool Crown Court. It was previously prosecuted and fined £180,000 for serious health and safety breaches following the death of Ian Aliski in a crushing accident in 2010.

Mr Edwards also said:

This is another sad indictment of the record of the waste and recycling industry. The industry generally needs to pull its socks up and start taking better care of the safety of its employees. Data from the Health & Safety Executive shows that it is a high risk industry that accounts for a disproportionate number of work place injuries. This needs to improve.
Rescresco, however, really must take a long and hard look at itself and not shirk from the difficult questions. This examination must continue once the media spotlight and the scrutiny of the courts has moved on.

The death of one employee in 2010, and now this horrendous injury to Phil, stands as a record that some might say belongs to a Dickensian workhouse rather than a 21st century recycling plant. Phil sincerely hopes that the improvements that have occurred since his accident continue and become entrenched in the organisation

Richard Edwards also appeared on Radio 5 Livewhere he commented on the dangers of the industry.

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