Recycling company fined £300,000 after father-of-two from Barry killed by shovel loader in Cardiff

Anthony’s son, Jason, said his life was “torn to shreds” following the passing of his dad. Credit: Health and Safety Executive

A recycling company in Cardiff has been fined £300,000 after a father-of-two was killed by a shovel loader.

Anthony Bilton, from Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, died on 4 September 2019 when he was run over from behind by a Volvo shovel loader at Atlantic Recycling Limited’s Atlantic Ecopark site

The 59-year-old had been on his way to undertake routine maintenance tasks when the fatal incident happened, while he was walking across the wood processing yard.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Rhys Hughes said Atlantic Recycling failed to ensure pedestrians and vehicles were separated at its site.

The HSE investigation also found that although a risk assessment had been produced prior to the work commencing, it was not suitable nor sufficient and did not include work taking place in the wood yard.

It also said the assessment should have identified there was a risk to pedestrians where there were moving vehicles.

Anthony’s son, Jason, said his life was “torn to shreds” following the passing of his dad.

He said: “It took over three hours for me to be notified that my dad had been killed in a work accident. I started to become concerned when he weren't home from work at his usual time and failed to answer the phone.

"I remember thinking about popping by his workplace to see him whilst on my journey home from Telford, where I'd been for the past few days, but decided against it as I was exhausted from traveling.

“Had I gone to see him, I would've arrived at Atlantic Recycling between 3:30-4pm, he was killed around 4:10pm. Every day I deal with thoughts that: ‘If only I'd stopped to see him, he could still be alive today.’"

Jason Bilton said he suffered anxiety and depression, which left him unable to work.

He faced financial issues, as he had lived with Mr Bilton and they had paid half of household bills each.

He initially returned to work for fear of debt building up, and becoming homeless.

He expressed anger about proceedings being dragged out for three years, which left him unable to move on from his father's death.

He added, “There will never be real closure for my dad's death as it should never have happened, not the way it did. My life was torn to shreds within a few hours and to this day I’m still dealing with the consequences and emotional impact."

Atlantic Recycling Limited, of Newton Road, Rumney, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £29,917.47 in costs at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates’ Court on 28 February 2024.

HSE inspector Rhys Hughes said: “This tragic incident led to the death of a father-of-two and could have been prevented. Atlantic Recycling Ltd should have identified, and controlled the risks involved with using large plant and vehicles in line with HSE guidance.

“A safe system of work should have been in place, ensuring that pedestrians and vehicles were segregated.

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Judge Neale Thomas said photos of the yard suggested a "crowded and busy workplace", plans in place were "not working", and there were "no excuses" for the issues to be addressed before the yard was opened.

He added: "Using a vehicle of restricted visibility in an area where pedestrians passed was an obvious risk and attempts to address it were inadequate. A thumbs up system for people who can't see each other is no use at all.

In a statement, Atlantic Recycling said the company "apologises unreservedly to the family and friends of Mr Bilton, for this tragic incident and the loss they continue to live with every day.

They said: "We appreciate there is no mitigation or size of fine that will ever make up for the loss that they have suffered.

"The safety of staff is our utmost priority. We have reviewed and heightened health and safety measures on site to further reduce the risk of an incident like this happening again in the future."

Atlantic Recycling is a subsidiary of Dauson Environmental Group, which donated £200,000 to Economy Minister Vaughan Gething's campaign to replace Mark Drakeford as First Minister.

The donation has created controversy because of it's size, and because the company's director David Neal was prosecuted for illegally dumping waste on a conservation site.In January, the company submitted a development of national significance (DNS) planning application for a solar farm next to its Atlantic Recycling site in east Cardiff.

Due to the nature of the application, the final decision to approve or not will be determined by Welsh ministers.

Mr Gething's campaign has pointed out that as the site is within his constituency, he will not be allowed to be involved in any decision.

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