A DIRECTOR of a waste and recycling firm was handed a suspended prison sentence – and the company ordered to pay £700,000 in fines and costs – after the death of a man at a site in Dorset.
Dorset Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought charges after investigating two incidents at FDS Waste Services, in Mannings Heath Road.
The first incident occurred on Thursday, December 13, 2018, when an employee – Yamal Mohamed – was hit by a vehicle and sadly died as a result of his injuries.
Mr Mohamed was sorting recycling materials by hand in the yard when he was struck and killed by a reversing wheeled loader vehicle, which was being used to sort materials.
A further incident occurred on Monday, June 1, 2020, when an employee sustained injuries after becoming trapped in a large mechanical conveyor after he had climbed in to remove a blockage.
The man sustained broken ribs and other injuries.
The joint investigation focused on allegations that the company had failed to put in place sufficient working practices to safeguard its employees, including failing to ensure employees were segregated from moving vehicles during waste sorting.
It was also found that the company failed to provide its employees with adequate training, monitoring and supervision to prevent vehicle collisions in the yard.
A separate investigation by the HSE found FDS Waste Services failed to ensure that the workforce was provided with the padlocks required for locking the power source of the machinery in the ‘off’ position and did not offer adequate training for dealing with blockages and other maintenance tasks, which required access behind the machinery guards.
Detectives from Dorset Police’s Major Crime Investigation Team (MCIT) worked jointly with the HSE to conduct detailed enquiries into the operations at the facility and liaised with a number of experts to compile evidence.
Following engagement with specialists at the Crown Prosecution Service, charges were approved and the matter was brought before the court.
Following a four-week trial at Winchester Crown Court the company was found guilty of a charge of corporate manslaughter.
It was also convicted for two offences of failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
At a sentencing hearing on Wednesday (February 22), the company was ordered to pay fines totalling £640,000, as well as costs of £60,000.
Company director Philip Pidgley was also convicted of an offence of failing to discharge his duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months.
Detective Superintendent Rich Dixey, of Dorset Police, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of Mr Mohamed, who sadly died as a result of the incident on December 13, 2018.
“Nothing will ever make up for their loss, but we owe it to them to ensure those who put him and other employees at risk by failing to instil safe working practices are held to account.
“We have carried out a detailed investigation in conjunction with the HSE and other experts in order to demonstrate how the company fell below the standards required of them.”
HSE inspector Berenice Ray added: “Both of these incidents, including the tragic death of Mr Mohamed, could have been avoided had well-established measures been taken to ensure workers’ health and safety.
“Those in control of work must ensure that their workplace is organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner.
“They must also ensure that the power source of relevant machinery is isolated and physically ‘locked off’ whenever the guards are removed or access within the machinery is necessary.
“Those in control of work have a duty to assess the risks; devise safe methods of working and provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workforce.
“They must also adequately supervise work activities to check the effectiveness of the training provided and ensure safe systems of work are followed.
“There is clear, freely available guidance on how to manage these risks available on HSE’s website.”