Northern Ireland

ISL Waste Management, Mallusk, fined after employee injured in crush

Laganside court complex in Belfast

A waste management company has been fined £25,000 after an employee was injured in a crush between a bin lorry and the arm of a digger.

Belfast Crown Court heard Grzegorz Mucha, a Polish national, almost lost his life as a result of the incident which occurred on 3 October, 2017.

The digger was being driven by an untrained member of staff.

ISL Waste Management based in Mallusk was fined after admitting the breach of health and safety.

The accident happened in the company's unloading area, which has since undergone major refurbishments.

All staff are now shown videos on how to operate machinery correctly and extra staff now supervise the supervisors on each shift.

In October 2017, Mr Mucha had worked at the company for seven years, and on the evening in question he was working the night shift.

'Standing at rear of lorry'

The court heard that Mr Mucha was in the waste lorry unloading area, where waste was emptied then placed onto a sunken convenor belt.

Mr Mucha was standing at the rear of the bin lorry and was using a stick to remove residue from the flaps at the back of the vehicle when the incident happened.

The digger was being driven by a shift supervisor, who was neither trained nor authorised to drive it.

When the supervisor realised he had crushed Mr Mucha, an ambulance was called and he was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, the court heard.

Mr Mucha sustained serious injuries including fractured ribs, a punctured lung and a laceration to his liver.

He also had his spleen removed and underwent renal replacement therapy.

'Not adequately supervised'

A Crown lawyer confirmed that since the incident Mr Mucha had returned to Poland, did not take part in the prosecution process and did not provide a victim impact statement.

He said the employee who drove the digger was not trained to do so, adding that on the night of the incident "this was not adequately supervised".

A defence barrister said the management at ISL thought Mr Mucha was going to die, spent 48 hours at the hospital at his bedside, and also paid him his full wage - as opposed to statutory sick pay - "until he stopped submitting his medical certificates".

He added that the employee who drove the digger that night was not trained and "should never have been in the JCB".

The barrister also revealed the steps the company has taken since the incident which have included considerable changes to the production line, significant re-training for staff and a production manager on every shift.

The judge noted the potential dangers at busy recycling plants such as the premises at Mallusk and spoke of the importance of following risk assessments, and of supervision on shifts.

The judge also noted that while ISL had admitted the breach, it is "a firm that does take health and safety seriously, and that can be seen in their actions since this accident occurred".

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