Recycling giant gets six figure fine after death

NOT SUSTAINABLE Sims was named as a global recycling leader while awaiting an appearance in court on criminal safety charges relating to a workplace death.

NOT SUSTAINABLE Metal recycling giant Sims was named as a global recycling leader while awaiting an appearance in court on criminal safety charges relating to a workplace death.

A global metals and electronics recycling company which claims to have “the very highest” standards of health and safety has received a six figure safety fine for criminal safety breaches after a lorry driver died when a crushed car fell from a scrapheap.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Sims Group UK Ltd, part of the worldwide Sims Metal Management group, after truck driver Adrian Turner was crushed by a metal bale which rolled off the heap at the firm’s yard in Newport, south Wales.

Mr Turner, 50, from Wolverhampton, was delivering scrap to the site on 28 April 2008 and was directed to deliver his load to the metal shredder area of the yard. He left his cab and was opening the rear doors to his trailer when the one and a half ton metal bale on the scrap pile came loose and rolled down 20 feet straight into Mr Turner. He had not received any site safety induction from Sims UK Ltd and was following instructions given by Sims operatives when he was killed.

Sims Group UK Ltd pleaded guilty to safety offences. At Cardiff Crown Court on 14 April, the company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £57,500 costs.

HSE inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones said: “Metal recycling yards can be extremely dangerous places so it’s imperative companies have safe working procedures and systems in place that are observed by all staff and contractors.”

A statement from the bereaved family said: “While the financial penalty handed down to Sims Group UK Ltd today offers little comfort to our family we hope that it serves a warning to those companies operating in the waste recycling industry. It should be an absolute priority to ensure death and injury to employees and others on site is avoided. We have been torn apart by Adrian’s death and wish that no other family has to endure the loss of a loved one in the manner we did.”

The death and the criminal safety prosecution do not appear to have overly tarnished the firm’s reputation.

In February 2010, parent company Sims Metal Management was named ‘Best Recycler of the Decade’ by UK trade magazine Materials Recycling Week (MRW).

MRW editor, Paul Sanderson, said: “Sims Metal Management is a huge global metals and electronics recycling company which has enjoyed a decade of international success. It has made acquisitions all over the world and built a new state of the art WEEE recycling facility in the UK, supporting the UK economy and providing jobs. Sims Metal Management is a true giant in the sector.”

Commenting on the best recycler recognition, Sims spokesperson Myles Pilkington said the company was “proud of the enormous strides forward we have taken in recent years in the areas of sustainability, health and safety and energy efficiency, all of which have enabled us to operate to the very highest international, environmental, health and safety and legally compliant standards.”

Also this year, Sims Metal Management was listed in the Global Top 100 Most Sustainable Corporations published by business publication Corporate Knights.

Group chief executive officer Dan Dienst commented: “Sims Metal Management’s inclusion is testimony to the company’s commitment to, and effective management of, the societal, environmental and governance factors impacting our business. We strive, as in all things, to do the right thing and always with a sense of urgency. Doing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive propositions at Sims Metal Management.”

That will be scant consolation to the family of Adrian Turner. Nor was this Sims’ only recent UK prosecution for criminal health and safety and safety breaches.

In February 2008, it was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,663.73 after an employee was injured when conveyors running to a fragmentiser at its Wimborne, Dorset, site started unexpectedly whilst he and a colleague were clearing a blockage.

The Health and Safety Executive, which prosecuted the company in both cases, still lists the company as a case history on good practice in the recycling industry.

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