A Kent recycling firm has been fined after a Latvian agency worker lost the majority of his left arm in an unguarded conveyor.

Vladislavs Golovacs, 45, from Gravesend was contracted to Pinden Limited when the accident occurred on the 20th December 2010.

An industrial conveyor system used to transfer waste into a sorting shed started to shake and judder after becoming blocked with stones. Mr Golovacs removed the stones with the power still running and his left arm became trapped.

His arm was amputated from his body between his shoulder and elbow, leaving just a quarter of the limb intact.

Mr Golovacs was airlifted to hospital for emergency surgery, but surgeons were unable to reattach his arm and he has been unable to return to work since the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told Dartford Magistrates' Court that there was no guarding in place to prevent access to dangerous moving parts and Mr Golovacs had not received training on how to safely clear blockages.

Pinden Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, they were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £11,500 in costs.

Incident was entirely preventable

HSE inspector Andrew McGill said: “This was a horrific incident that was entirely preventable had appropriate guarding been fitted, and had Mr Golovacs been properly trained in how to clear a blockage.

“He knows to his cost that dangerous moving parts should be properly restricted when in operation, and isolated if access is required. However, it was the responsibility of Pinden Ltd to ensure that happened - which it clearly didn't on this occasion. Safe systems of work must be of paramount importance at all times.”

Henrietta Phillips solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “Yet again we see a case where a worker has been injured because of the most basic failure to identify an obvious source of potential injury.

“Contact with moving parts is a major cause of workplace injury in the cases we deal with. Insufficient guarding is all too often the cause.”