A South Yorkshire waste management firm has admitted neglecting the safety of its workforce after two men were injured within just a week at its site in Barnsley.

One worker fell ten feet into a skip as he clung to a conveyor belt that began to operate. The other suffered serious injuries to his arm in a separate incident when it was drawn into the rollers of a large crushing machine.

The two incidents were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, which prosecuted Carlton-based RG Wastecare Ltd for serious safety failings.

Barnsley Magistrates’ Court heard the first incident happened on 25 February last year when site workers Ian Ardron and John Clifford were setting up a waste sorting machine for use.

Mr Ardron climbed on to its front conveyor belt and kneeled down to clear some carpet that had tangled in the rollers. His co-worker thought he had gone to fetch a fitter to repair a fault and started up the machine to check a side belt was running. As he did, Mr Ardron was propelled along the belt and, despite his attempts to hang on, was dropped ten feet into an empty skip.

Mr Ardron, 40, of New Lodge, Barnsley, suffered fractures to his foot and skin and nerve damage where the bone fragments shattered. He was in hospital for ten days and was unable to return to work for some six months.

The court was told the second incident occurred just six days later on 3 March when Mr Clifford was helping to restart a Jaw Crusher machine. He saw some wire tangled in a magnetic belt roller and went to pull it free. The machine suddenly restarted and the wire was pulled back into the rollers along with Mr Clifford’s left forearm.

Mr Clifford, 44, of Lundwood, Barnsley, sustained crush injuries to his forearm. He was off work for six weeks but has since returned.

HSE found RG Wastecare had failed to implement simple measures that would have prevented both incidents and had ignored earlier warnings from both HSE and an external consultant in 2009 about the lack of a safe system of work.

RG Wastecare Ltd, of Goodwin Yard, Boulder Bridge Lane, Barnsley, pleaded guilty to two breaches of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mark Welsh said:

“Both men have suffered needless injuries owing to RG Wastecare’s disregard for vital safeguards for its workforce in what is a notoriously high- risk environment.

“In both incidents, we found there were no functioning emergency stops on the machines and several guards or covers had been removed allowing access to numerous dangerous parts.

“One of the most hazardous aspects was the company’s failure to ensure that these large and powerful machines could be safety isolated from the power source while any maintenance or preparation work was being carried out on or around them.”