Worker bled to death with severed ankle in recycling machinery incident, court hears

The court heard Norman Butler, 60, died from blood loss after his ankle was severed. Credit: Media Wales

A dad-of-three bled to death after his ankle was severed by machinery at the plant where he worked due to "shockingly bad" safety procedures, a court has heard.

The recycling plant where Norman Butler, 60, "died from a loss of blood" after a baling machine accident is now facing a safety charge, Mold Crown Court heard.

The boss of Recycle Cymru Ltd (RCL) Stephen Jones, 60, denies the manslaughter of his employee, Mr Butler, by gross negligence.

Described as having "shockingly bad" safety procedures in place, the court heard Jones didn't have the machine's 78-page safety manual and allegedly lied to a health and safety inspector the day before the accident.

The jury heard Mr Butler, of Prestatyn, had only worked for the firm for a month before the incident, with his job requiring him to collect cardboard waste and put it into bales.

RCL boss Stephen Jones denies the manslaughter of his employee by gross negligence.

Prosecutor Craig Hassall QC explained on 30 November 2017 the father-of-three collected waste cardboard and drove it to RCL for 4pm.

Cardboard would be dropped into a hopper container 11ft off the ground, down a chute and into the bailing machine to be crushed into squares of bales, the court heard.

But the court heard that due to blockages at times, staff including the managing director would walk up to the conveyor belt to unblock it - sometimes "jumping" up and down on the hopper whilst attached to a rope on a ceiling beam.

Witness Paul King said he arrived at 7:18pm and saw Mr Butler's van and the baling machine on. He then noticed blood leaking from the machine.

He explained: "I opened the side door of the chute. Mr Butler was trapped inside. I realised he was dead." He then called an ambulance.

Prosecutor Mr Hassall listed alleged safety failings by Jones and his firm, claiming he didn't have the safety manual for the baling machine nor carry out adequate training or supervision.

The jury heard how Mr Butler had only worked for the firm for about a month before the incidient.

The factory floor was "chaotic and cluttered" and safety was "shockingly bad", Mr Hassall said.

The prosecutor also claimed Jones lied to a Health and Safety Executive inspector, who coincidentally arrived to do a spot check the day before the fatal incident, by claiming he was the only person at the company to operate its baling and sorting machine, he claimed.

Jones, of Llanerch Road West, Rhos-on-Sea, claims he spotted Mr Butler on the A55 that day but thought he would simply park his vehicle at RCL and not continue working alone, because he had allegedly been told not to.

The prosecution said it was "irrelevant if Mr Butler made an error of judgement himself".

Jones denies manslaughter by unlawfully killing Norman Butler due to gross negligence in that as managing director he owed him a duty of care as an employee.

He is also accused of failing to ensure that he was adequately trained to operate the baler, there were safety systems, that employees did not climb the conveyor belt (to clear blockages), that falling into the baler was guarded against and that Mr Butler did not work alone.

The prosecution claim these breaches of his duty of care were "substantially" the cause of Mr Butler's death.

Jones and Recycle Cymru Ltd deny the offences. The trial, which is expected to last for up to two weeks, continues.