The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted JFC Plastics, previously known as Delleve Plastics, after Steven Bennett died at the company's former premises in Bold, St Helens.
The HSE investigation concluded that the most likely cause of his death was that he fell into a machine, used to break apart bales of plastic bottles, while checking to see if it was running smoothly.
The firm was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in prosecution costs.
In a statement provided to FoodQualityNews.com, JFC Plastics said: “The debaler involved was a standard machine which is used extensively in recycling industries and had an excellent safety record. The installation and commissioning of the machine in St. Helens were approved by the manufacturing company.
“It is a fact that no one knows how the accident happened as there were no witnesses to it. The courts opted to find that Mr. Bennett fell into the machine while it was operational as a consequence a serious fine was imposed.
“In mitigation, the company has had no previous safety convictions and cooperated fully with the HSE accident investigation.”
JFC Plastics pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees who were operating the machine.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Bennett was last seen alive in the early hours of the morning on 24 November 2005.
Failed to take prevention steps
The court was told JFC Plastics failed to take steps to prevent access to the machine while it was operating, and to ensure power to the machine was cut before maintenance work was carried out.
JFC was sentenced following a hearing in which the judge found that its failings were a significant cause of Mr Bennett's death.
Tanya Stewart, HSE principal inspector, said: "This was a tragic death that could have been prevented if JFC Plastics had put more thought into the safety of its employees and the adequacy of its working practices.
"Employees regularly entered the machine to remove entangled wire, but there were no safeguards in place to prevent them carrying out this work while the machine's parts were still moving.”