Dad crushed to death after falling into recycling machine on ‘£3 per hour’ job

A dad-of-six earning just £3 an hour died after falling into a recycling machine with its safety features disabled

A Birmingham inquest into the gruesome death of Gul Daad Khan, 36, heard how no risk assessments had been carried out at his employer's recycling plant in Liverpool Street, Digbeth.

It also emerged employees weren't given any safety equipment at the site on land owned by Cardboard 4 Cash Ltd, which changed its name to C4C Investments Ltd in 2018.

The inquest's findings, which were not linked to any specific company, have only just come to light, according to BirminghamLive.

The baler into which Mr Khan fell was being leased by Cardboard 4 Cash to another firm, Mr Recycle Ltd.

An investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive following the tragedy on October 12 in 2016.

Yet almost four years on and no one has faced any action over the death in an industry which has seen at least 19 workers killed since 2017.

At the inquest last year the official cause of death was given as "crush asphyxia" after Mr Khan climbed onto the the huge baler, used to crush
cardboard, after it had become blocked. However he fell into the machine and suffered fatal injuries.

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In his written findings, then-assistant coroner James Bennett said: "No actions had been taken in response to safety concerns raised in
prior Health & Safety audits. No risk assessments had been carried out.

"No safe systems of work were in place for general working, or for clearing blockages.

"No training had been carried out. No supervision was in place. Visibility around the baler was poor. No safety equipment was provided to the employees. Wet cardboard was a tripping hazard."

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A statement read out by Mr Khan’s former flatmate and work colleague Gulbacha Yousafhail talked about low pay and poor working conditions.

The illiterate worker said he worked six days a week, with 11 hour days, for just £210 – around £3.18 per hour. He and Mr Khan paid £100 per month for a shared rented room in Lozells. Both had been working at the work site for around three years.

Gulbacha said: "Nobody was given any training in this factory. I was never given any training and never told or advised anything about the
health and safety.

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"I was just given a jacket to wear and that’s it. Mostly my job was cleaning and I considered myself safe."

Talking about the day of Mr Khan's death, he said: "The incident didn’t happen in front of me. I was cleaning and Gul Dad was working on the machine. Then suddenly people started screaming that Gul Dad got hurt. When I arrived there he was already dead."

He said he believed Mr Khan was hit by a conveyor belt which ran the machine, a belt he said his former colleague had previously repaired but he revealed "the owners never fixed it properly".

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The inquest heard the machine was being leased from Cardboard 4 Cash by Mr Recycle Ltd whose sole director is Lee Piper. In an unconnected case Piper, 40 and from West Bromwich, was jailed for ten years in December 2018 for sex offences including rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, ABH and inciting prostitution for gain.

BPM Media separately wrote to Piper in jail and Kulvinder Singh Sidhu, the director of Cardboard 4 Cash, to comment on claims made at the inquest about the machine not being repaired properly prior to Mr Khan's death. At the time of publication no response had been received.

Talking about his lost colleague and friend Gulbacha had told the inquest: "I lived with Gul Dad for long time and he was a healthy and
perfect person and as far as I know he didn’t have any medical problem. He never drank alcohol because we are Muslim."

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Cardboard 4 Cash Ltd and Mr Recycle Ltd were each served with improvement notices on November 2, 2016 and a further six prohibition
notices between November 3-11 in 2016 under health and safety at work legislation, provision and use of work equipment and electricity

The orders included banning the use of the baling machine "until such time as it has been subject to a thorough examination and maintenance
check by a competent person and any deficiencies identified rectified to ensure that it can be operated in a safe manner and safety devices
are working".

The companies were also banned from using some fork lift trucks until safety examinations took place. Once a Prohibition Notice has been
served the restrictions remain in place so long as that business is operating. The activity should not resume or continue until the matters specified in the prohibition notice have been remedied.

According to latest statistics, seven people were fatally injured in the waste and recycling industry in 2018/19 – down from 12 who died the year before. The fatality rate for the waste industry is now said to be only second to the agriculture sector.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said: "The investigation into the incident is ongoing and HSE continues to support and liaise with West Midlands Police who retain primacy of the investigation, in accordance with the Work Related Death Protocol. As the investigation is live, we are unable to comment further at this time."

An inspection of the Liverpool Street site took place in May 2019, the HSE confirmed. This week West Midlands Police confirmed primacy for the investigation has been handed to the HSE.

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