Monthly Archives: January 2012

Thorntons Fined £20,000 after Worker Breaks Finger

Thorntons, a UK chocolate manufacturer, has been ordered to pay fines of £20,000 by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court after an accident with a wrapping machine where a 37 year old worker broke her finger while operating it on November 17, 2009. The worker in question, Ellen Yardley from Derbyshire, was in the company’s head office in Somercotes working on a wrapping machine, which is used for wrapping chocolates in foil before dispensing them down a chute into a tray.

During a break, Ms Yardley tried to clean the inside of the output chute where caramel had spread and created a mess, however the machine was still running. The cloth she was using got caught in the rotating parts and the machine pulled in her right hand. Subsequently her middle finger sustained a cut and a fracture, and she was unable to work for 10 weeks.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that the machine did in actual fact have guarding installed, but it was not adequate. A further audit of the factory’s other machines discovered that many of them needed safety improvements, for example – preventing access to dangerous parts or the reparations of existing safeguards.

Stuart Parry, a HSE inspector, had this to day following the hearing –

“Thorntons should never have allowed the machinery guarding to fall below the legal safety standards.

“It was effectively asking its employees to work on machines that put them at risk of injury.

“It was entirely foreseeable that the inadequate guarding could lead to injury and even if Ms Yardley had not used a cloth, her hand could still have been drawn into the machine while cleaning it. If the company had carried out an adequate risk assessment of its machinery, its workers would not have been put at risk and in Ms Yardley’s case painfully injured.”

A Thorntons spokesman stated –

“The company accepts the court’s decision regarding the fine imposed in relation to the two technical breaches.”

Skip Worker Receives £175,000 Compensation after His Hand is Crushed

Enviro Skips Ltd has been ordered to pay £175,000 compensation following an incident where a 42-year-old worker crushed his hand and had his thumb and finger cut off due to an accident at work in January 2009. The accident occurred when skip worker, Heath Riley, was delivering a skip for the company and the skip had been stacked insecurely inside another skip.

Mr Riley’s right hand was severely crushed after the top skip came loose and fell on his hand. Subsequently, Mr Riley’s thumb was amputated on the site of the accident and was brought for specialist microsurgery at the Royal Preston Hospital. Here, his index finger had to be amputated by surgeons.

Furthermore, two more of Mr Riley’s fingers have now been rendered useless and he can no longer use his right hand – his dominant hand. This has left him unable to carry out everyday tasks, such as DIY hobbies. He can no longer work in his former industry.

Mr Riley has this to say about the matter –

“No amount of compensation will take away the pain and suffering I have endured as a result of the accident, nor does it make up for the fact that I cannot return to a manual labour job due to my injuries.

“This significant settlement will go some way in assisting with the ongoing pain relief and medical treatment costs I will need in the future, also allowing for the loss of earnings that I will suffer.”

Enviro Skips accepted liability for breaching health and safety regulations by stacking and delivering skips that were damaged and unsafe and dangerous for use.

HSE Investigation Launched after Driver Dies at Landfill Site

An investigation has begun following an incident where a 34-year-old lorry driver died after being crushed at the Waste Recycling Group site, a Milton landfill site. Mark Andrew Nyland was delivering rubbish the accident occurred. It is thought that he was crushed between two heavy vehicles on the household waste recycling centre of Cambridgeshire County Council, the site next to it.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) had launched an investigation and an inquest into the death has been opened and adjourned. A Waste Recycling Group spokesman has confirmed that driver of one of their contractor’s waste delivery vehicles did indeed die after an accident at their Milton landfill site. The spokesman then stated –

“WRG are working with the relevant authorities, including the Health and Safety Executive, to investigate the incident. The company has been in contact with the driver’s immediate family to express its deepest condolences.”

A coroner’s office spokeswoman said yesterday –

“The cause of death has been given as multiple injuries. Mr Nyland was from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire. The inquest was adjourned for further reports and a date has not yet been set for the hearing to be resumed.”

Police have ruled out any suspicious circumstances and the HSE has confirmed that their inspectors are investigating the accident.

Rotherham Firm Prosecuted by HSE for Safety Failings

Yorkshire Spin Galvanising, a Rotherham firm, has been prosecuted by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failures in safety following a maintenance engineer being crushed by a 1.5 tonne weight that landed on his back on 27 September 2010. The worker sustained multiple injuries, such as a broken shoulder, two cracked ribs and the tops of three vertebrae being snapped off.  The HSE conducted an investigation following the incident occurring.

The accident had happened when the worker was investigating a fault and climbed onto a gantry which was in the machine. After it had cleared, he made his way to the back of the gantry – where the operator could not see him – in order to look at another repair that he had carried out recently. He leaned over a guardrail in order to get a better view, however, the machine was still running and the counterweight descended – which subsequently pinned him against the junction box. Before he lost consciousness, he was able to shout ‘stop’ to alert his co-workers and a co-worker at the control panel was able to free him from the weight.

The company, which is registered at East Parade, Leeds, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs by Rotherham Magistrates’ Court after it admitted guilt to the violation of Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at their Rotherham plant.

HSE Inspector, Denise Fotheringham, said that the accident could easily have been fatal and that the company had poor safety standards, especially when it came to the safety of maintenance workers. He then went on to say –

“There were no systems to isolate the machinery and engineers relied on emergency stops and interlocks. That’s woefully inadequate as there is a risk the machine could be re-started with the engineer inside.

“Machines should always be fully isolated from the power supply and if an engineer has to go in, it needs to be locked off with a padlock that only the engineer can undo once the work is complete.”

27 people were killed in the manufacturing sector during 2010/11 and just over 3,800 major injuries were reported according to the latest statistics from HSE.

Construction Company Fined £12,000 after Worker Falls from balcony

Preseli Construction & Maintenance Ltd, a construction company from Pembroke Dock, has been ordered to pay fines by Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court after a 31-year-old worker fell from a balcony and suffered severe injuries. The accident occurred on a construction site in a large house in Saundersfoot. The worker, Karl Kraus, had to stay in hospital for 6 days as a result. The fall occurred when Mr Kraus removed a concrete block that had been put in front of a doorway. When he moved the block, Mr Kraus fell backwards from the seven metre high balcony.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out an investigation and discovered that the company had had not implemented sufficient scaffolding nor had they an adequate system of accident prevention. Mr Kraus needed immediate surgery to pin a bone back in his heel. He had to wear a plaster cats for 10 months; he still cannot walk.

Preseli Construction & Maintenance Ltd was ordered to pay fines of £12,000 in addition to costs of £2,376.25, whilst its director, Mr Christopher Newell was £4,000 and costs of £2,376.25. He is also not permitted to carry out work as the company director for 2 years.

Following the hearing, Anne-Marie Orrells, a HSE inspector stated –

“Falls from height are the single biggest cause of fatalities in the construction industry. If work is carried out at height then all appropriate measures should be put in place to reduce the risk of falling. Mr Kraus is still a young man whose life has been turned upside down after receiving significant long-term injuries in this incident”