Bakers Waste Services was established in 2002 by Paul Baker, who in 2010 was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Leicestershire Business Awards. Bakers Waste currently employs just over 80 staff and their operations are expanding all the time. Mr Baker’s wage packet is evidently growing quite nicely.
But earlier this year Mr Baker’s profitable business took a gentle knock when the “company pleaded guilty to failing to protect its workers by breaching Health and Safety law.” Skimping on workplace health and safety is of course a tried and tested method of enhancing profits, and even after being found in the wrong, Mr Baker’s Enderby-based recycling company was only fined £12,000.
The consequences of this guilty verdict for the 22-year-old worker who “suffered horrendous leg injuries” when his leg got trapped in one of Bakers Waste’s baling machines, will on the other hand, be felt for the rest of his life. Indeed, the worker in question “was taken to hospital and had to undergo three operations to save his left leg below the knee.” Apparently, “His leg was so badly crushed that he lost some of the bone.” And after spending four weeks in hospital he was unable to return to work for an entire year.
Unfortunately “injuries and deaths in the waste sector are not uncommon,” and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has branded the industry as ‘one of the most dangerous’ sectors to work in. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berian Price said:
“The incident was entirely preventable. Bakers Waste Services fell below the standards expected of a competent employer, standards which are well publicised and accepted within the industry. The safety devices on the baler had been defective for a period of time yet it took a horrific incident before they took action to remedy the problem. Incidents arising from dangerous parts of machinery are unfortunately commonplace despite freely available guidance. Around 12 people a year are killed and a further 40,000 injured due to incidents involving machinery.”
As always the best way that workers can act to improve workplace health and safety is by organizing themselves within trade unions. Unions can also be a forum for uniting disparate workers across the country who are struggling to force their employers to take their very real health and safety concerns seriously. It is in this way that workers can successfully share positive experiences and learn from one anothers struggles; which is exactly what many rank and file trade unionists will be doing later this year at the National Shop Stewards Network annual conference (which will be held at Conway Hall in London on Saturday 4th July). Maybe see you there — http://shopstewards.net/
In addition to his work at Bakers Waste, since 2010 Paul Baker has been the only current named board member of a company called Workstuff UK Ltd (Registered Address: 205-207 Saffron Lane, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 7NB, http://www.workstuffuk.com) which calls itself “Leicester’s Premier Workwear supplier.” At this latter company a previous board member is one individual named Barbara Kahan, who apparently is currently a board member of nearly 200 companies, and has resigned from directorships of over 8,000 companies. This surely seems like an issue that might benefit from a little investigative reporting.