A WIDNES waste processing company and its managing director have been fined after a worker was crushed to death.

Fresco Environmental Limited employee Kevin Wright, 27, was processing waste carpet to be re-baled when one of the bales fell from a stack onto him, causing injuries from which he later died.

The incident on March 1, last year, could have been prevented if the company had carried out a risk assessment, Liverpool Crown Court heard on Friday.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to ensure proper controls were in place to reduce the risk of bales falling and injuring workers.

There were no exclusion zones around the stacks of bales, bales were poorly stacked and in close proximity to vibrating machinery.

It also found that the company’s managing director, Lee Heaps, failed to ensure that a safe system of work was in place for the processing of carpet bales thereby exposing his employees to avoidable risks.

Fresco Environmental Ltd, of Everite Road, Widnes, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 towards costs.

Company director, Lee Heaps, of Brockvale Close, Burtonwood, Warrington pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was given a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and must complete 100 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £400 towards costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Helen Jones: “This tragic incident could easily have been prevented had Fresco Environmental acted to identify and manage the risks involved.

“As managing director involved in the day to day running of the company, Lee Heaps had a responsibility to ensure that his company provided a safe working environment for its employees.

“In failing to do so he exposed employees, including Mr Wright, to significant risk.”