Recycling company JFC Plastics has been told to pay £240,000 in fines and costs after a fatal accident at its St Helens factory on November 24 2005.
The order follows a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against the firm previously known as Delleve Plastics.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that 31-year old Steven Bennett died at the company's former premises at the Neills Road Industrial Estate in Bold. Bennett was last seen alive by his colleagues in the early hours of November 24.
Cause of death
The most likely cause of his death was that he fell into a machine, used to separate bales of plastic bottles, while checking to see if it was running smoothly, concluded a HSE investigation.
The court heard that JFC Plastics failed to prevent access to the machine while it was operating. It also failed to ensure power to the machine was cut before maintenance work was carried out.
In addition the firm had an inadequate risk assessment in place and its training, supervision and monitoring of the work “did not meet acceptable standards,” said the HSE.
‘Could have been prevented’
HSE principal inspector Tanya Stewart said after the hearing: “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."
JFC Plastics, of Goldicote Business Park, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work 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 last week.
No one from the firm was available to speak to FoodManufacture.co.uk.