Serial offender fined after recycling bin death

Veolia 2 web qualityA company that says it is the UK’s leading waste and recycling firm and that parades its environmental and safety credentials has been fined £130,000 after a worker was killed when a 1,100-litre recycling bin fell on his head.

David Ives, 56, an employee of Veolia ES (UK) Ltd, formally known as Onyx UK Ltd, was collecting refuse outside a pub in Easington, near Aylesbury when the incident happened on 5 May 2004. Aylesbury Crown Court heard that a recycling bin fell from the bin hoist on the recycling lorry and landed on Mr Ives’ head, killing him.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Veolia ES (UK) Ltd, of Veolia House, Pentonville Road, London over the incident. The jury found the company guilty of criminal breaches of safety law. The company was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay costs of £220,000. It was the latest in a series of safety offences committed by Veolia to have attracted HSE enforcement action.

Commenting after the conclusion of the latest case, HSE inspector Dennis MacWilliam said: “This was an extremely tragic incident which has now left Mr Ives’ widow to continue life without a loving husband. It could have been avoided if only a few simple measures had been in place. Employers are legally required to make sure their equipment is regularly maintained and is fit for use by their workers. If the bin hoist on the recycling lorry had been maintained this incident would never have happened.”

While no mention of the conviction appears on the Veolia website, the company is less reticent when it comes to boasting about its safety successes. Just two weeks before the fatality conviction, a Veolia news release noted: “Veolia Environmental Services, the UK’s leading recycling and waste management company has achieved a major milestone in its environmental and safety performance. The company has achieved ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 certification for all its 350 sites across the UK.”

HSE’s prosecutions database reveals that Veolia (ES) was fined for serious safety breaches that resulted in injuries to workers in both 2006 and 2007, one relating to serious fall injuries and the other to exposure to acid fumes.

The safety watchdog’s enforcement notices database reveals it was issued safety improvement notices on seven occasions in 2008, once in 2007 and on six occasions in 2006. HSE’s prohibition noticed database shows violations at Veolia ES were so serious that HSE put an immediate stop to work once in 2008 and on three occasions in 2006, at different Veolia sites.

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