The heartrending story of David Willis, a 29-year-old worker who tragically lost his life in an industrial shredder accident at Timmins Waste Services (TWS) in Wolverhampton, continues to echo with sorrow and lessons unlearned. Five years ago, in September 2018, Willis met with a harrowing end that has since left an indelible mark on his family, friends, and the broader community.
David Willis was attempting to clear a blockage in a shredder designed for wood and commercial waste, a task that took a devastating turn due to the machine still running. The anguish of his family, magnified by the inability to recover his body, has been a poignant reminder of the dire consequences and placed the focus on workplace health and safety.
TWS and yard manager Brian Timmins, responsible for operating the shredder at the time, were found guilty of corporate manslaughter and manslaughter, respectively, at Wolverhampton Crown Court. This verdict brings to light the systemic failures and disregard for safety protocols that culminated in this tragedy.
The investigation led by West Midlands Police Detective Inspector Jim Colclough unveiled a disturbing pattern of safety oversights at TWS. Risk assessments were not conducted, and safe methods of working were glaringly absent. The decision by Timmins to have Mr. Willis clear the blockage without turning off the shredder was a direct cause of the workplace incident.
Further adding to the family’s distress, the court heard that the machine’s contents, including what may have been remains of Mr. Willis, were disposed of in a landfill site in Cannock, Staffordshire. The futile search for his body denied the family a chance for a proper farewell and closure.
The family’s statement, released through West Midlands Police, expresses an enduring pain, magnified by the loss of shared family experiences and milestones. Mr. Willis, remembered fondly as a ‘superhero in the sky’ by his nephew, symbolizes the irreplaceable human element lost in such incidents.
The Workers Union Says…
“This case serves as a grim reminder of the critical importance of workplace safety and the dire consequences of its neglect. It underscores the need for stringent enforcement of safety protocols and the responsibility of employers to ensure a safe working environment. As we reflect on the loss of David Willis, it is imperative to reinforce the commitment to worker safety, preventing such tragedies in the future.”