Errors led to arm being ripped off in waste shredder
A RECYCLING worker lost his arm working in a plant which was "an accident waiting to happen".
"Long standing and respected" employee Steve John, now aged 59, was working for Neath Port Talbot (Recycling) Ltd at their Crymlyn Burrows site.
The prosecution said a catalogue of health and safety errors resulted in Mr John's arm becoming trapped and severed by the machine.
Despite nine hours of surgery his right arm had to be amputated.
His former employers have been fined £90,000 and told to pay £50,000 in costs after admitting two offences of not ensuring effective safety measures were in place.
Swansea Crown Court heard debris regularly blocked the conveyor belt and staff put their arms inside the machine to remove it.
On May 11, 2011, the machine was turned on with his arm inside.
Colleagues, including his cousin, went to his aid but one found the nearest first aid kit was empty. They had to wrap his wound in clean rags.
When he got to hospital he described the pain as being 10 out of 10.
Prosecution barrister Carl Harrison said there was no guard in place on the machine and that the emergency stop button or control panel were not in reach or sight of the person clearing debris.
The company had previously been warned by the Health and Safety Executive about its lack of risk assessment and been warned by auditors about the lack of guards on machines five times between 2008 and 2010.
The prosecution said the accident was "clearly foreseeable" and said there was a risk of serious injury or death to employees.
Defence Barrister Mark Balysz said the company was apologetic towards Mr John and had tried but not been able to find him another job within the business.
"Did they fail? Yes. Are they sorry? Very much so," he said.
"The company has learnt its lesson at the expense of Mr John and they do not wish to be before this court or any other court again."
He asked the judge to limit the fine, partly because of any effect it would have on Neath Port Talbot Council which is a shareholder in the company's parent company.
Recorder Peter Rouch said he had to take into account the fact those footing the fine would be taxpayers but the company's managing director said they would discharge the amount in full within 28 days.
"This was an accident just waiting to happen," he said.
Following the case, a council spokesman said: "Neath Port Talbot Recycling is a wholly owned subsidiary of Neath Port Talbot Waste Management which is in turn wholly owned by Neath Port Talbot Council. The council is not involved in the day to day running of the MREC facility in Jersey Marine."