Inquest opens into recycling plant death

Flowers left outside the Gwyn Davies recycling plant after Mr Brook's accident.  (d611c234)
Flowers left outside the Gwyn Davies recycling plant after Mr Brook's accident. (d611c234)
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A hardworking father-of-six suffered severe crushing injuries after falling into a recycling machine, an inquest heard.

Simon Brook, 50, died in hospital three days after the accident at the Gwyn Davies Recycling plant in Batley in August 2012.

Mr Brook, 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 yesterday, a statement from his widow Diane Brook told of the pain of losing her husband, a dedicated family man, who she married in 1993.

“Simon was a happy, friendly man who lived to make people laugh. He was a good husband and responsible father,” the statement, read by coroner Oliver Longstaff, 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.

“I miss him so much.”

Mr Brook first worked at the plant in 2003 before leaving to do long and short haul driving jobs and work at other plants in North Kirklees.

He returned to Gywn Davies in 2008 for work which was closer to his home in Well Lane, Dewsbury Moor, in order to support his four children with Diane, as well as two children from a previous marriage.

Mrs Brook’s statement said that Mr Brook had risen to the role unofficial site manager while another yard manager was on sick leave.

She raised concerns about the amount of work put on her husband and the lack of communication with senior managers on site about health and safety at the plant.

“One week Simon was left to do all the work in the yard on his on.

“He was completely overrun by this. He looked like he was ageing and washed out.”

Mrs Brook’s statement said she did not believe Mr Brook had received any specific training on the baler machine and that he never mentioned the machine to her because he knew it was dangerous and did not want to worry her.

Fellow employee Darren Firth gave Mr Brook a lift to work on the morning of August 17.

Mr Firth went into the office while Mr Brook went to the baler machine, which was housed in a shed.

After coming out of the office, Mr Firth and another colleague heard shouting coming from the shed.

“I dropped everything and ran straight in,” Mr Firth told the court.

Mr Firth said 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.

Mr Firth said the practice of removing blockages with a rod was common practice. The machine had a guard rail and a harness which could be used if necessary.

An ambulance was called and Mr Brook was taken to Leeds General Infirmary, where he underwent several operations to amputate his legs.

His condition worsened and, after lengthy discussions with the family, the decision was taken not to try to aggressively keep him alive if his body started to fail.

A post-mortem examination report from Dr Faisal Ali concluded that Mr Brook died from multiple organ failure following severe crushing injuries to the lower limbs and pelvis.

The hearing continues.