A RECYCLING firm has been fined £200,000 after one of its workers was killed by a 20 tonne vehicle being used to move wood.

Raymond Burns was working for UK Wood Recycling, based at the Wilton chemical complex, near Redcar, east Cleveland, when he was crushed to death on December 19, 2008.

The 43-year-old father of two was struck by a bucket attached to a mechanical load shovel - a huge 15 foot high wheeled vehicle - and then run over.

An inquest recorded his death as an accident. Teesside Crown Court heard how the company had provided no segregation between pedestrians and vehicles and no safe route for staff to walk onto the site from its cabins and offices.

The court was told that such practices were widespread in the recycling industry at the time and the company admitted its procedures had not been robust enough.

Mr Burns, from Eston, east Cleveland, had the job of inspecting wood for any contamination before it was smashed into a sawdust type product in a hammer mill and once processed sold on for biomass fuel.

The mill was fed by load shovels and operated 24 hours a day with the business employing 30 staff.

Noise from the mill made it impossible to hear vehicle movements and eye witnesses described how it was apparent Mr Burns had not seen the loader and the driver had not seen him.

Prosecuting, Rosalind Scott Bell said it was not suggested that the accident had occurred because of cost cutting, but the company had been unaware of guidance issued at the time.

She said: “Where possible vehicles and pedestrians should be separated and while there is no separation it must be reasonably foreseeable that injury or death could occur.”

UK Wood Recycling Limited pleaded guilty to failing to comply with health and safety regulations designed to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles at work can circulate in a safe manner.

Its chief operating officer, David Lee, who was in court, extended sincere condolences to the family of the dead man.

The company deeply regretted its failures at the time and had now made improvements, ensuring vehicles and pedestrians were not working in the same area at the same time, providing walkways and equipping workers with radios so they could communicate with each other.

Judge Tony Briggs said the impact of the accident had been devastating on the victim's family and said as well as the fine the company should pay £34,241 court costs.