Worker injured under falling bales

In Somerset a migrant worker suffered severe injuries when a load of cardboard bales collapsed before landing on him inside a shed that was used to sort waste. Each bale was weighing 250 kilograms.

Last year on September 8, the 40 year old Aleksandras Fomenkouas was sorting waste when the fatal incident occurred at a facility in Cannington Enterprises Ltd in Cannington.

Mr. Fomenkouas was in the shed separating plastic waste to be used in the anaerobic digester of the company. Another worker was unloading stacks of the bales nearby using a forklift truck. When the employee was unloading the stacks, a neighbouring stack became unstable hence collapsing towards Mr. Fomenkouas and knocked him to the ground. Mr. Fomenkouas suffered several fractures to his lower limbs and pelvis. The injuries have prevented him from returning to work.

The HSE made a visit to the site and ordered three Improvement Notices. The Notices required the company to make sure that employees are segregated from stacks, implement measures to ensure that vehicles are separated from pedestrians and to come up with a new system to do stacking and de-stacking as well.

Speaking to SHP, Ian Smart, the HSE inspector said that the company should have prohibited workers from working close to stacks unless when accessing the stacked materials. The company was also asked to conduct a risk assessment and come up with a safe system of ensuring that the stacks remained stable.

Inspector Smart said that the incident could have been fatal yet it could have been avoided entirely. He added that stacks of bales could become unstable and employees should be far from them. The stack’s stability should be checked regularly as it is crucial.

On 12 October, the company appeared before the Taunton Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to the breach of s2 (1) of the HSWA 1974. Cannington Enterprises was fined $7000 and also the court ordered it to pay $7614 as costs.

The company, in mitigation said that it had reorganized the way waste materials are stored in the company hence complying with the enforcement notices. It said that there has been a reduction in the number of people who worked near the stacks. However, there have been no previous convictions concerning the company.

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