A recycling company has been fined £2.15m after being found guilty of corporate manslaughter after a worker was killed by a loading shovel.

Dean Atkinson suffered fatal injuries when he was run over by the vehicle at Ward Recycling Limited’s premises on Windermere Road, Hartlepool, in January 2020.

The company was also found guilty of two charges connected to failing to ensure that staff were not exposed to the risk of injury or death by collision between vehicles and pedestrians at the site following a trial at Teesside Crown Court.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Stephen Garner said Mr Atkinson’s death could have been prevented had the firm implemented an alternative traffic route for pedestrians at its site.

The 32-year-old had been returning from the site’s welfare cabins to his workstation on the picking line but needed to walk across a traffic area at the site where mobile plant, including two loading shovels, operated.

One of the loading shovels struck and killed Mr Atkinson when he was walking in the traffic area.

The worker’s death prompted investigations from HSE and Cleveland Police with Ward Recycling which resulted in the court case.

HSE inspector Mr Garner said: “This tragic incident could easily have been avoided if Ward Recycling had implemented simple control measures.

“Following the incident, it took the company less than a week to put in place an alternative traffic route to protect pedestrians.

“Had this been in place before the incident, Dean Atkinson would not have lost his life. Sadly, pedestrians being struck by vehicles on waste sites has caused many fatal accidents on waste sites and the industry should be well aware of the risks.”

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The investigation into the incident found Ward Recycling, which went into liquidation in 2021, failed to protect pedestrians from the mobile plant operations it was carrying out at the site.

There were no suitable traffic management arrangements in place, meaning pedestrians were at risk of being struck by moving vehicles, including loading shovels.

Ward Recycling Limited, formerly of St Peter’s Square, Oxford Street, Manchester, was found guilty of breaching the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company was fined £1.75m for corporate manslaughter and £400,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.