A food waste recycling company run by a family from Newark has been convicted of corporate manslaughter after two employees drowned when falling into a road haulage tanker containing semi-liquid pig feed.
Nathan Walker, 19, and Gavin Rawson, 35, died in December 2016 after the incident at Greenfeeds Limited in Normanton, Leicestershire. The company, which was owned and ran by the Leivers family, including Ian and his his wife Gillian, produced bio-fuel and pig feed from recycled products which were then delivered using road haulage tankers.
The firm’s managing directors – Gillian Leivers, 60, and Ian Leivers, 59, of Fosse Road in Newark – and 69-year-old transport manager Stewart Brown, of Forest Road in Mansfield, were convicted of offences relating to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after a six-week trial in Leicester – see the full charges here.
They have all been released on bail and are due to be sentenced at the same court on June 16.
Mr Walker, who was a member of yard staff at the company, climbed into a tanker to clean it after it was found it could not be fully emptied of the pig feed on December 22, 2016.
He got into difficulty and the alarm was raised to Mr Rawson, also a member of yard staff, who climbed into the tanker in an attempt to rescue Mr Walker.
They were pulled from the tanker but, after emergency services attended and resuscitation was attempted, both men sadly died at the scene.
A post-mortem examination concluded that the men had died as a result of drowning in the animal feed.
The forensic pathologist found it was most likely the men had been overcome by either toxic product from the animal feed and/or a lack of oxygen, which had caused them to lose consciousness and fall into the animal feed.
A subsequent investigation carried out by Leicestershire Police and the Health and Safety Executive found that, at the time of the tragic deaths, their employer Greenfeeds Ltd had no adequate health and safety procedures in place to govern the cleaning of their tankers.
A method of cleaning the tankers which involved an employee entering the tanker with a power washer while another acted as a spotter and held the hose pipe connected to the power wash had been allowed to develop at the company and had been used on many occasions.
The cleaning of the tanker on December 22, 2016 had been carried out at the direction of Gillian Leivers and transport manager Stewart Brown. However, the cleaning method had no proper risk assessment and there were no relevant method statements in place.
It was also found that staff at the company had previously expressed concerns regarding the dangerousness of the cleaning method. These concerns had been ignored and there was also no named health and safety officer at the company.