BOSSES at a recycling plant have been ordered to pay almost £50,000 after admitting two health and safety breaches which saw a Ribble Valley employee almost lose his arm.

James Billows, 20, needed four operations after breaking his right arm when he got trapped in a hard core conveyor belt at Environmental Waste Recycling (EWR) Ltd’s Eden Works site in Colne Road, Kelbrook.

The company, which also has a base in Accrington, was found guilty of failing to carry out a risk assessment on the machine, and failing to erect a guard preventing access to its rollers.

Preston Crown Court heard yesterday that EWR Ltd did not install a guard, despite the issue being raised in two reports by an independent health and safety consultant, in 2008 and 2010.

Mr Billows, from Bolton-by-Bowland, said he slipped and was stuck in the machine for 90 minutes on August 7 last year. He spent a month in hospital after losing ‘a considerable amount of muscle tissue’.

Michael Atkins, defending, said the firm had carried out ‘significant remedial work’ since the incident, and said it was ‘not a case of putting profit before safety’.

He added: “It’s a family business which has accepted its shortcomings. It has got the message. It isn’t a bad company.”

Rosalind Emsley-Smith, pros-ecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said: “The accident was entirely avoidable.

“The defendant company fell far short of the safety standards expected.”

His Honour Judge Stuart Baker fined the company £46,000 – £23,000 for each breach – and ordered it to pay £3,671.30 in costs.