Factory worker bled to death after severing foot in recycling machine

·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
Norman Butler bled to death after having his ankle severed when he was trapped alone in a cardboard recycling machine. (Wales News)
Norman Butler bled to death after having his ankle severed when he was trapped alone in a cardboard recycling machine. (Wales News)

A man was killed after falling into a cardboard recycling machine just a month after starting his new job, a court has heard.

Norman Butler, 60, bled to death after having his left foot severed when he was trapped alone in the machine at the Recycle Cymru plant in Kinmel Bay, Wales, in November 2017.

Company director Stephen Jones, 60, is accused of his manslaughter by gross negligence. The trial at Caernarfon Crown Court heard safety at the plant was "shockingly bad".

Prosecutor Craig Hassall said Mr Butler's left foot had been severed while he was working alone in the baling machine.

Mr Hassell said: "He would have been trapped with no-one to rescue him."

The court heard Mr Butler loaded waste cardboard from a box van onto a conveyor belt.

It should have gone in a hopper, down a chute and into the hydraulic bailing machine to be crushed into square bales tired with wire.

Norman Butler was trapped alone in the machine at the Recycle Cymru plant in Kinmel Bay, Wales. (Wales News)
Norman Butler was trapped alone in the machine at the Recycle Cymru plant in Kinmel Bay, Wales. (Wales News)

But blockages in the hopper meant staff would walk up the conveyor belt to unblock it, often by stamping on the cardboard.

CCTV footage showed Mr Butler walking up the conveyor belt and he may have slipped or fallen into the hopper.

Witness Paul King arrived later and noticed blood leaking from the baling machine.

He said: "I opened the side door of the chute. Mr Butler was trapped inside. I realised he was dead."

Mr Hassall listed a catalogue of alleged safety failings – and said Jones didn't even have the 78-page safety manual for the baling machine.

He said: "The factory floor was chaotic and cluttered and safety was shockingly bad."

The court heard Jones lied to a Health and Safety Executive inspector who arrived to do a spot check the day before the fatal incident.

Company director Stephen Jones is on trial at Caernarfon Crown Court accused of manslaughter by gross negligence. (Google)
Company director Stephen Jones is on trial at Caernarfon Crown Court accused of manslaughter by gross negligence. (Google)

Jones claimed he was the only person at the company to operate its baling and sorting machine, the court heard.

Jones, of Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales, is personally accused of manslaughter and an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

He denies the manslaughter by unlawfully killing Mr 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 and 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.

A pathologist gave the cause of death as massive blood loss due to amputation of his left foot.

Jones and Recycle Cymru Ltd deny the offences. The trial is due to go on for two weeks.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting