A waste and recycling company, Gaskell’s (North West) Limited, has been fined and its director, Jonathan Gaskell, has been jailed after the death of Zbigniew Galka, a 39 year old Polish worker in 2010.
The company was operating a machine used to compress recyclable and waste materials into small bales which had a defeated interlock system enabling a worker to enter the machine while it was still in operation. Mr Galka had entered the baling chamber of the machine to clear a blockage of waste materials that had caused the machine to stop. The machine automatically activated, and Mr Galka suffered haemorrhaging, shock and severe traumatic injury to both legs, and died on his way to hospital.
In the subsequent joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Merseyside Police it was found that the baler’s safety interlock system had been defeated two months earlier. In addition, poor maintenance of the machine meant it required frequent operator intervention.
In 2015 the HSE inspectors then visited the site again having been informed that the company was continuing to use the same machine with further critical safety systems on the baler being defeated, five years after Mr Galka’s death. This was noted as a serious aggravating factor by the Judge upon sentencing.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and has been fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £99,886.57.
The company director, Jonathan Gaskell pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to eight months in prison.