A WASTE and recycling company has been fined £10,000 after an employee had his arm ripped off by a machine.

Agency worker, Vladislavs Golovacs, of Wrotham Road, Gravesend, was attempting to clear a blockage at Pinden Quarry, in Longfield, when the incident happened on December 20 2010.

Last Thursday (May 17) Dartford Magistrates' Court heard that a conveyor belt used to transfer waste into a sorting shed was juddering and virbrating, making sorting difficult after a driving roller was blocked by stones.

The 45-year-old Latvian national, contracted to work for Pinden Limited which owns the quarry, should have stopped the machine before removing the debris.

Instead he removed the stones with the power still running and his left arm became trapped.

The court heard it was ripped from his body between his shoulder and elbow - leaving just a quarter of the limb intact.

Mr Golovacs was airlifted to hospital for an emergency operation but surgeons were unable to reattach his arm and he has been unable to work since.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found there was no guarding in place to prevent access to dangerous moving parts on the conveyor.

Mr Golovacs had also received no training on how to safely clear blockages.

Pinden Limited, registered to Waldens Depot, in Waldens Road, Orpington, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 for these failings.

The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £11,506 in costs.

HSE Inspector Andrew McGill said: "This was a horrific incident that was entirely preventable had appropriate guarding been fitted, and had Mr Golovacs been properly trained in how to clear a blockage.

"He knows to his cost that dangerous moving parts should be properly restricted when in operation, and isolated if access is required.

"However, it was the responsibility of Pinden Limited to ensure that happened, which it clearly didn’t on this occasion. Safe systems of work must be of paramount importance at all times."