Food waste disposal firm to pay nearly £290,000 for toxic gases

John Pointon and Sons was ordered to pay nearly £290,000 for safety failings

A food waste disposal and recycling firm was ordered to pay nearly £290,000 last week for safety failings, after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found three employees were overcome by toxic gases.

The employees of John Pointon and Sons Ltd in Cheddleton, Stoke-on-Trent were overcome after opening a compartment within an animal waste trailer on April 23 2014.

One worker was overcome by fumes after he entered the compartment and two others were injured when they entered after him.

The workers suffered from a lack of oxygen in the atmosphere and a high presence of hydrogen sulphide.

Could have resulted in fatalities 

Stafford Crown Court was told the incident was preventable and it could have resulted in fatalities.

John Pointon and Sons pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 5(1) of the Confined Spaces Regulations 1997.

It was fined £250,000 and was made to pay costs of £37,362.

The HSE also mentioned that the company had been prosecuted twice before for two fatal incidents, which involved workers entering confined spaces in its processing plant.

Two fatal incidents

John Pointon and Sons was fined £660,000 on June 29 2015 after a worker died as he tried to fix an industrial cooker.

It was also ordered to pay a further £187,632 in costs after pleading guilty to safety failures that led to the death of Mark Bullock.

This is the latest in a series of prosecutions at recycling plants in the past year. Nick Brookes Recycling Ltd was fined £80,000 and London-based Metal & Waste Recycling Ltd was fined £20,000 in February 2016. For a full list of prosecutions, see the box below.


Waste disposal and recycling firm HSE prosecutions
  • Sita UK Ltd: £200,000 fine – October 13 2015
  • Walter Heselwood Ltd: £120,000 fine – February 2 2016
  • Nick Brookes Recycling Ltd: £80,000 fine – May 26 2016
  • Gwynn Davies-McTiffin Ltd:  £80,000 fine – September 2 2015
  • Metal & Waste Recycling Ltd: £20,000 fine – January 26 2016

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Comments (1)

david Booth LLB GrIOSH/NEBOSH - 27 Jun 2016 | 06:35

Is it really 2016??

It is simply disgracefully that week after week employees are injured or even killed as a result of often BASIC H&S issues. Loss of fingers as a result of 'modified' safety guards or access allowed where it should not be are things that are from the last century! I worked many years in the middle east where new factory's were being built for food & beverages and in TEN YEARS non of my staff of >1000 received an injury beyond a cut that needed a plaster. These were employees who had never seen a machine or worked the machine but were taught the rights & wrongs, H&S was a daily inspection and everyone was aware of the rules AND worked by them. What is wrong with us that we cannot grasp these basic matters? A young man dies in a silo because of being immersed in grain still present. Such a fatality should not be possible today or even over the last 2 decades. Something really very BIG is wrong and it is not changing or improving and when people 'modify' safety guards to make another job easier or to save 5 minutes why is that person still in a job and why had H&S not picked it up in the factory? SHAME on the people allowing this- it is inexcusable- which is why I say' allowing it'.

27-Jun-2016 at 18:35 GMT

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