A man named Zbigniew Galka aged 39, was killed after climbing into a machine to clear a blockage at Gaskells Waste Services in Bootle. Jonathan Gaskell who is the company managing director and the maintenance engineer called Michael Cunliffe admitted health and safety breaches. Ex-operations manager Paul Jukes aged 45 of Church Road in Chester has denied failing to take responsibility for staff safety. He claimed Jonathan Gaskell was “a bully” who neglected to invest in poorly maintained equipment however was found guilty after a trial. Prosecutors said the “death-trap” became blocked daily, therefore the staff then switched it off, opened an access door, climbed inside and cleared it.
Andrew Long, prosecuting, said Mr Galka had little training and “clearly misunderstood how the machine worked, or the horrendous risk”. Zbigniew Galka got in without turning it off, inadvertently activated a hydraulic ram, and was crushed alive on December 23, 2010.
It is known that another worker has previously suffered a broken leg when the machine was turned on after they climbed inside. The baler was designed with inter-lock switches fitted to the chamber door, so if it was opened, power would be cut.
Judge Robert Trevor-James has accepted that both men were remorseful but he also said the death could have been avoided. He also told Paul Jukes "if there wasn't an actual foresight, this must be a case of wilful blindness." Paul Jukes has been jailed for nine months and Michael Cunliffe got four months in prison, suspended for two years and also he has to complete 250 hours of unpaid work. Jonathan Gaskell and his company will be sentenced at a later date.