Inquest verdict: Recycling plant death was accidental

Floral tributes were left outside Gwyn Davies recycling plant. (d611c234)
Floral tributes were left outside Gwyn Davies recycling plant. (d611c234)

A verdict of accidental death was delivered at an inquest into the death of a hardworking father-of-six who was crushed to death after falling into a 40 tonne recycling machine.

The jury said that Simon Brook’s death had been contributed to by health and safety procedures at Gwyn Davies Recycling Plant in Batley. They said that had safety measures the company had put in since Mr Brook’s death been made earlier, his life would have been saved.

Mr Brook, of Well Lane, Dewsbury, died in hospital three days after the accident in August 2012.

Mr Brook, 50, a labourer and driver, fell 10 feet into a recycling baler after over-stretching while trying to fix a blockage, the hearing was told.

At Bradford Coroner’s Court, a statement from his widow Diane Brook told of the pain of losing her husband. “Simon was a happy, friendly man who lived to make people laugh. He was a good husband and responsible father,” it said.

The court heard he was a “hardworking and industrious man” who took pride in his work and totally abstained from alcohol, such was his dedication to driving.

“I feel like I have lost my life as well,” Mrs Brook’s statement read. “Family life has changed. There is a hole in all of our lives.

At around 6.30am on August 17, Darren Firth heard shouting coming from the baler shed. “I dropped everything and ran straight in,” Mr Firth told the court. He could see Mr Brook trapped in the hatch door at the bottom of the bailer. “On instinct I just pressed the emergency stop button,” he added.

The court heard from various employees who said removing blockages with a rod was common practice. They said a formal training session on the machine was not given, but training was given on the job. The machine had a guard rail and a harness which could be used if necessary.

Mr Brook was taken to Leeds General Infirmary, where he underwent several operations to amputate his legs. But his condition worsened. A post-mortem examination by Dr Faisal Ali concluded that Mr Brook died from multiple organ failure following severe crushing injuries to the lower limbs and pelvis.

Coroner Oliver Longstaff said: “No one who has been in court this week can fail to be touched by the terrifying ordeal Mr Brook went through.”