UK Wood Recycling has expressed deep regret over the incident, which happened in 2008, and said that it was working hard to improve its health and safety system.

Raymond Thomas Burns, 43, of Eston, who worked as a load inspector for UK Wood Recycling at its site in Wilton, Redcar, was walking between a wood pile and a skip in the yard when he was hit by a load shovel.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company on November 12 at Teesside Crown Court.

The HSE found that no segregation measures had been put in place by UK Wood Recycling to separate vehicles and pedestrians working on the site.

Workers were unprotected from the dangers of constantly moving vehicles – despite previous incidents where vehicles had collided, and workers reporting other near misses.

UK Wood Recycling chief operating officer David Lee said: “The conclusion of the HSE prosecution yesterday (November 12) has brought some closure to a very sad and tragic incident, both for Ray’s family and all the staff at UK Wood Recycling.

“In his summing up of the case yesterday, the judge said he recognised we took our responsibilities over health and safety very seriously.

“The judge also noted that the processes we had in place at UK Wood Recycling at the time of the accident were similar to those in place at many other waste companies, and that as soon as we became aware of their failings, we immediately changed our policies and procedures to improve safety.

“The court recognised that UK Wood Recycling is committed to achieving the safest workplace it can for its employees and the HSE is fully supportive of the processes we now have in place.

“This tragic accident can never be undone and Ray’s family and his colleagues at UK Wood Recycling will live with that forever and for that we are truly sorry.”

After the case, HSE Inspector Bruno Porter said: “A conscientious and hard-working man has lost his life in this senseless way. There was simply an acceptance by UK Wood Recycling Ltd of the established working pattern. Solely relying on drivers or workers noticing each other is not adequate control.

“This was an entirely preventable death caused by the company failing to have a system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other.”

Liz Gyekye

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