Recycling firm fined £150k over man’s death

By Connie Osborne Friday 07 February 2014 Updated: 07/02 09:15

A BEOLEY recycling company has been ordered to pay more than £157,000 after a worker was crushed to death.

Stephen Walker, who owns R and S Recycling at Bransons Cross Farm on Beoley Lane, represented the company at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday (February 4) after pleading guilty to safety failings.

Kenneth Swaby, from Canvey Island in Essex, was struck by a bale of waste weighing more than a tonne as he walked past a five metre stack in the company’s warehouse on February 11, 2011.

Three of the bales toppled over, with one landing directly on top of him, killing him instantly.

The court heard how an investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the death of the 43-year-old.

It found R and S Recycling failed to properly control the risks to employees working at the site, including the proper storage and safe stacking of waste materials, stating they were uneven and too high.

Prosecuting, Nicholas Cole said the bales should have been interlocked to prevent them from falling and the stability of the stack should have been checked regularly as well as being stored in a zoned off area to prevent people walking by them.

But Tony Cross, defending, said the company had no previous convictions or history with the HSE and had since worked with a reputable health and safety company to raise standards.

He added a number of workers said they were aware of stacking the bales in fours or fives, there were instructions on the warehouse wall and no one could recall seeing any bails fall in the past.

“On more than one occasion Mr Walker has broken down because of the sight he saw when he tried to help Mr Swaby after the accident. He is very remorseful,” he said.

“This is not a man living in the lap of luxury, far from it. He is a man who seems obsessed with working seven days a week to keep his business going.”

Sentencing, Judge Christopher Plunkett said: “No level of fine can restore the loss to this family and no level of fine can ever attempt to put value on a human life.”

He added he acknowledged Walker had shown remorse through his guilty plea and fined him £100,000 before ordering him to pay costs of £57,927.

Speaking after the case, Mr Swaby’s brother Chris, told the Standard: “No amount of fine will ever bring Kenny back and bring back Billy and Kenny’s dad.

“It won’t change what has happened, the only thing that would make any difference to this family is having Kenny here right now.

“He was larger than life, into everything and was the best dad the two boys could have asked for. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him, and you cannot put a price on that and what has happened to this family.”

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