Company fined £260K after worker left with ‘severe injuries’ in horror machine trap accident

A waste and recycling company has been fined £260,000 after a worker sustained severe crush injuries during maintenance work.

Grzegorz Poreba, an employee of Cappagh Public Works Limited, sustained severe injuries after becoming trapped between a conveyor and a metal bridge, which formed part of a waste sorting machine at Riverside Road, Wimbledon on September 11, 2020.

The 48-year-old had entered the machine to make repairs.

The Flex X Track Large Screener machine where the incident took place (Picture: HSE)

But the machine had not been isolated from all sources of energy before the repair work started, and when it was inadvertently switched on, Mr Poreba was thrown on to the conveyor, trapping him against a metal bridge.

Mr Poreba suffered multiple injuries which required 23 screws and two plates inside his body, and has not been able to return to work since.

“The whole accident has turned my life upside down,” he said. “I cannot walk or stand for longer than an hour-and-a-half.

“It has been very hard. If I could turn back time, I could only wish that the accident had never happened. The doctors have been trying to regain my physical and mental health.

“The only success so far is that I am not in a wheelchair.”

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Cappagh had failed to provide a suitable means to isolate the machinery from all sources of energy.

The isolator switch had been broken and was therefore inoperative. The company also had no formal maintenance arrangements for the machinery.

Cappagh, of Waterside Way, Wimbledon pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work act.

The company was fined £260,000 and was ordered to pay £4,358 costs at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Pippa Knott said: “The fine imposed should underline to everyone in the waste industry that the courts, and HSE, take a failure to ensure that maintenance work is completed safely extremely seriously.

“Grzegorz is lucky to be alive and the incident has left a lasting impression on him.

“We will not hesitate to take action against companies which do not do all that they should to keep people safe.”

Cappagh has been contacted for comment.

Pictured top: Grzegorz Poreba was caught between the metal bridge and the conveyor belt to the front of the picture, and sustained severe crush injuries (Picture: HSE)

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