"He fell into the machine, which then continued to operate."
A father-of-six was killed after falling into a machine at a Birmingham recycling site in 2016. It has now been revealed that the site had many safety features disabled.
Gul Dad Khan, aged 36, was working long hours at a recycling site in Liverpool Street, Digbeth.
However, on October 12, 2016, a horror accident occurred when he fell into a baling machine he was trying to unblock.
Following the tragedy, an investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive.
The land is owned by Cardboard 4 Cash Ltd, which changed its name in 2018 to C4C Investments Ltd.
An inquest held in 2019 heard the baling machine in question was being leased by Cardboard 4 Cash to another recycling firm, Mr Recycle Ltd.
This firm operated on land at the Liverpool Street site, which was bought by Cardboard 4 Cash Ltd in 2014 for £631,000.
Many safety features on the baler had been disabled, no risk assessments had been carried out and no safety equipment was provided to employees.
Birmingham Mail discovered the findings and have now revealed details of the tragedy as well as the inquest which followed.
The official cause of death was stated as “crush asphyxia”.
Mr Khan climbed onto the baler, used to crush cardboard, after it had become blocked but fell into it and suffered fatal injuries.
Then-assistant coroner James Bennett said in his written record of inquest:
“The baler had become blocked due to overloading with cardboard.
“In an attempt to clear the blockage, the deceased climbed onto the top of the baler. He fell into the machine, which then continued to operate.
“Many safety features of the baler had been disabled. The baler had not been maintained.
“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.”
Mr Khan’s former flatmate and co-worker Gulbacha Yousafhail revealed the low pay and working conditions at the recycling site.
He told the court he was illiterate and did not even know the address. He worked there six days a week, 11 hours a day, for just £35, which is approximately £3.18 per hour.
He and Mr Khan paid £100 each per month for a shared rented room in Lozells. Both had been working there for around three years.
Mr Yousafhail 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.
“I was just given a jacket to wear and that’s it.
“Mostly my job was cleaning and I considered myself safe. I believed the other workers were feeling their self safe because nobody like to get hurt.
“Cardboard would (be) brought to this place in vans and then making bundles and export to China in big containers.”
On the day of the incident at the recycling site, Mr Yousafhail explained: “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 thought Mr Khan was hit by a conveyor belt which ran the machine, a belt he said Mr Khan had previously repaired.
“This conveyor belt is about two metres width.
“Sometime ago when it had a hole in the belt, it was about half a metre big. That hole was repaired by Gul Dad and he mended it by putting some long screws in it. But the owners never fixed it properly.”
The machine had been leased from Cardboard 4 Cash by Mr Recycle Ltd whose sole director is Lee Piper.
Piper is currently in prison serving a 10-year sentence for sex offences.
When he and Cardboard 4 Cash director Kulvinder Singh Sidhu were asked to comment about the claims that the machine was not repaired properly, they gave no response.
Talking about Mr Khan, Mr Yousafhail said:
“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.”
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 regulations.
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.”
Both companies were also banned from using some forklifts until safety examinations took place.
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.”
Since 2017, 19 workers within the waste and recycling industry have been killed in the workplace.
Although an investigation continues, Mr Khan and his family still have not received justice.