Seven years to convict recycling firm over worker’s death

A recycling company has been ordered to pay £240,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed at a St Helens factory.

The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted JFC Plastics, previously known as Delleve Plastics, after Steven Bennett died at the company's former premises at the Neills Road Industrial Estate in Bold.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Bennett, 31, was last seen alive by his colleagues in the early hours of the morning on 24 November 2005.

The HSE investigation concluded that the most likely cause of his death was that he fell into a machine, used to break apart bales of plastic bottles, while checking to see if it was running smoothly.

The court was told JFC Plastics failed to take steps to prevent access to the machine while it was operating, and failed to ensure power to the machine was cut before maintenance work was carried out.

The company also had an inadequate risk assessment in place and its training, supervision and monitoring of the work did not meet acceptable standards.

JFC Plastics Ltd, of Goldicote Business Park, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees who were operating the machine.

The company was sentenced following a Newton hearing in which the judge found that its failings were a significant cause of Bennett's death.

JFC Plastics was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in prosecution costs on 28 September 2012.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Tanya Stewart said: "This was a tragic death that could have been prevented if JFC Plastics had put more thought into the safety of its employees and the adequacy of its working practices.

"Employees regularly entered the machine to remove entangled wire, but there were no safeguards in place to prevent them carrying out this work while the machine's parts were still moving.

"I hope this case will act as a warning to companies to think more carefully about the safety of workers who clean, maintain or repair machines or who clear blockages."

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