A Recycling company has been fined £650,000 after an employee died inside a waste sorting machine at its premises in Milton Keynes.

Aylesbury Crown Court was told that the ballistic separator, which separates organic and inorganic waste, had not been isolated from the power supply when cleaner Rafal Swiadek, 42, climbed into the top level. The machine was switched on from the control room and he was fatally injured.

Shortly after the accident on 8 August 2016 an inquest opening, reported by Milton Keynes Citizen, heard that a “welfare search” of the site was carried out after Polish-born Swiadek did not show up for a taxi he had booked to take him home after his shift. His body was found inside the machine.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the risk assessment had failed to identify the risks of clearing blockages and cleaning the machine. There was no safe system of work in place for workers responsible for carrying out these tasks.

The separator also lacked adequate guarding at the top level, which created ready access to dangerous parts of machinery.


The Company pleaded guilty to breaching reg 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and reg 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. It was fined and ordered to pay costs of £34,197.

HSE inspector Emma Page said: “Every year a significant number of serious or fatal injuries in the waste and recycling industry occur because machines are inadequately guarded and because activities such as clearing blockages and maintenance are being undertaken when machinery is running.”

The 2017-18 annual occupational injury and ill health statistics, which were published earlier this week by the HSE, showed that those working in the waste management sector had the highest prevalence rate of non-fatal injuries, with the equivalent of 1,602 per 100,000 workers.

 Twelve waste management operatives sustained fatal injuries in the 12 months to April. This corresponds to a rate of 10.26 per 100,000 and is significantly higher than the overall rate of fatal injuries of 0.45 per 100,000 employees in Great Britain.


It is key that when working in high risk industries such as waste management, health and safety is imbedded into the day to day running of the business. Risk assessments must be suitable and sufficient to eliminate the risk of these types of incidents.

TEAM Safety Services Ltd can help to ensure that you understand the risks within your business and put in place adequate systems to manage them. Please contact us today for further information on our Health and Safety Support and Training.

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