Dean Atkinson lost his life when he was struck and run over by a loading shovel at Ward Recycling’ premises on Hartlepool’s Longhill Industrial Estate in January 2020.
Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Stephen Garner said Mr Atkinson’s death could have been prevented had Ward Recycling implemented an alternative traffic route for pedestrians at its site on Windermere Road.
Mr Atkinson, aged 32, had been returning from the site’s welfare cabins to his workstation on the picking line. To do so, he needed to walk across a traffic area at the site where mobile plant, including two loading shovels, operated.
One of the loading shovels struck and killed Mr Atkinson when he was walking in the traffic area.
His death prompted investigations from HSE and Cleveland Police with Ward Recycling later being prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The company was found guilty of corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety regulations after a trial at Middlesbrough Crown Court last month.
The HSE investigation into the incident found that Ward Recycling, which went into liquidation in 2021, failed to protect pedestrians from the mobile plant operations it was carrying out at the site. There were no suitable traffic management arrangements in place, meaning pedestrians were at risk of being struck by moving vehicles, including loading shovels. Loading shovels are particularly dangerous if adequate segregation is not in place, in part due to the limitations to the operator’s visibility around the machine – an HSE visibility assessment found that an area over 10 metres in front of the vehicle could be obscured from the driver’s view.
Ward Recycling Limited, formerly of St Peter’s Square, Oxford Street, Manchester, was found guilty 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 etc Act 1974. The company was fined £1.75m for corporate manslaughter and £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations at Middlesbrough Crown Court on 26th January 2024.
HSE inspector Stephen Garner said: “This tragic incident could easily have been avoided if Ward Recycling had implemented simple control measures.
“Following the incident, it took the company less than a week to put in place an alternative traffic route to protect pedestrians.
“Had this been in place before the incident, Dean Atkinson would not have lost his life. Sadly, pedestrians being struck by vehicles on waste sites has caused many fatal accidents on waste sites and the industry should be well aware of the risks.”