Liverpool director jailed and Gaskells fined after worker killed in baling machine

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
The baling machine (Image: HSE)

A Liverpool-based waste and recycling company has been fined and its director jailed after the death of a 39-year-old worker.

Gaskell’s (North West) and Jonathan Gaskell were both sentenced for their part in the death in 2010 of Polish national Zbigniew Galka, and for continuing to operate the same baling machine in a dangerous manner for up to five years after his death.

Jonathan Gaskell of Peckforton Hall Lane, Tarporley, Cheshire pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws and was sentenced to eight months in prison.

Gaskells (North West) was fined £700,000 and ordered to pay costs of £99,886,57.

Galka was killed after he climbed into the baling chamber of the machine to clear a blockage, yet the machine automatically activated.

He suffered haemorrhaging, shock and severe traumatic injury to both levels, resulting in his death on the way to hospital on 23 December, 2010.

The machine had a defeated interlock system which meant workers could enter it while it was still in operation.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Merseyside Police found the baler’s safety interlock system had been damaged two months earlier and poor maintenance of the machine meant it needed frequent operator intervention.

HSE revisited the site in July 2015 where the same machine was still in operation with the guarding open, putting other operators at risk.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Phil Redman said:

“Our thoughts as ever are with the family and friends of Zbigniew Galka. A great deal of time has passed since his tragic passing and we would like to publicly thank Zbigniew’s family for their patience throughout this complex investigation.

“This incident was completely avoidable and it is inconceivable that Gaskells continued to operate the same dangerous machine in the way it did for as long as five years after this incident.”

A spokesperson for Gaskells Waste added: “We do recognise there were some failings in the past, and have learned lessons. These were isolated incidents in a 28-year history, and the

company has both an excellent safety record and reputation for providing a quality service to all our customers.

“The wellbeing of our employees is absolutely paramount, and it is of note that the Judge in his sentencing remarks commented on the excellent safety procedures in place at Gaskells.

“What happened in 2010 continues to have a lasting effect on everyone here and each year on the date of the tragedy we hold a small memorial service at the plant. Our thoughts remain with Zbigniew Galka’s family.”


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