Recycling firm fined £2m after worker crushed to death by onsite vehicle

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Ward Recycling Limited has been fined £2.15 million and found guilty of corporate manslaughter, after an agency worker was run over and killed by a loading shovel at its site in Hartlepool.

Dean Atkinson, 32, was struck by the vehicle in January 2020 as he was crossing the site from the toilet back to his workstation on the picking line. Atkinson’s death could have been avoided if Ward Recycling had provided an alternative traffic route for pedestrians at its site on Windermere Road, Longhill Industrial Estate, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Atkinson's death could have been avoided if Ward Recycling had provided an alternative traffic route for pedestrians. Photograph: HSE

Ward Recycling, formerly of St Peter’s Square, Oxford Street, Manchester, was found guilty at Teesside Crown Court on 26 January of breaching Section 1 of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company, which went into liquidation in 2021, was fined £1.75 million for corporate manslaughter and £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.

HSE found in its investigation that Ward Recycling had no suitable traffic management arrangements in place to prevent pedestrians from being struck by moving vehicles, including loading shovels. HSE guidance on workplace transport states that, by law, traffic routes must be suitable for the people and vehicles using them. Where vehicles and pedestrians share a traffic route, there must be enough separation between them.

“This tragic incident could easily have been avoided if Ward Recycling had implemented simple control measures,” said HSE inspector Stephen Garner. “Following the incident, it took the company less than a week to put in place an alternative traffic route to protect pedestrians.”

Had this alternative route been in place before the incident, Garner added, Atkinson would not have lost his life.