Harlesden worker crushed to death at one of Europe’s biggest recycling firms

Linas Matailis, 25, was killed instantly at the European Metal Recycling (EMR) plant in Scrubs Lane

A worker at one of Europe’s biggest recycling firms died when a digger driven by an unauthorised driver ploughed into him, an inquest has heard.

Lithuanian-born Linas Matailis, 25, was killed almost instantly when the 35-tonne loading shovel hit him before crashing into the beams holding up an overhead conveyer belt at the European Metal Recycling (EMR) plant in Scrubs Lane, Harlesden, on July 18, 2010.

The driver of the shovel, Vidas Sukackas, was inexperienced at the helm and was unsupervised despite not being fully trained to handle the machine, a jury at West London Coroner’s Court ruled.

The plant, used to recycle cars, fridges, and other metal appliances, was closed for cleaning at the time.

Mr Sukackas lost control of the Volvo L220E shovel just before 8am as he tried to park after taking away some of the dirt and debris.

Mr Mataitas, an agency worker from Mitcham, Surrey, who had been employed at the plant for just two months, suffered multiple injuries, including devastating spinal damage, and was knocked unconscious.

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He died of multiple injuries.

The inquest heard Mr Sukackas had been internally trained to use the shovel, but did not have full authorisation because he had not yet been externally assessed.

Crash investigator Mike Gibb, from the Health and Safety executive, told the inquest the fact vehicles and people on foot were using the same part of the site was a recipe for disaster.

EMR said it had made changes as a result of prohibition notices from the HSE in the wake of Mr Mataitias’ death.

Verdict: Accidental death