Mainetti UK has been fined £81,600 after a worker suffered serious injury when her hair and scarf was caught in machinery. The factory worker – Kelly Nield, 24, from Ellesmere Port – could have been killed in the “horrific accident” it was asserted in Mold Crown Court. She sustained injury to her neck and throat as well as hair loss and a fractured finger – still suffers from disabling injuries. The coat hanger maker company admitted to four breaches in health and safety protocol at its plant at Deeside, Flintshire.
The court was told that the horrific accident occurred on agency worker Miss Nield’s first day of sorting hangers while working on a conveyor belt in April 2009. According to prosecutor, Simon Parrington, she leaned forward to clear a blockage on the line when her scarf became entangled in a cog mechanism that was not adequately guarded. Her hair then became entangled and as she tried to free herself, so too did her left hand get caught. Her neck, throat and hair were seriously injured.
Mr Parrington then went on to describe how Miss Nield attempted to free herself and then shouted for help. Eventually, another worker rushed to her aid and pushed the main “off” button for the conveyor belt which was located a distance away. Miss Nield spent three months in hospital and has undergone numerous operations and she has still been left with disabilities nonetheless.
Mr Parrington went on to say that because there was no emergency stop button located on the line, Miss Nield was not able to save herself, and she could easily have died. Barrister of the defendant, Simon Antrobus, said that Mainetti’s managing director and senior officials wanted to publicly apologise to Miss Neild for injuries that she had suffered. The company, which has a base in Scotland and has been in business for 38 years, had immediately admitted full liability and did not wish to “pass the buck”.
The company’s safety procedure that was in place had not been followed; the company should have discovered this sooner. The barrister then said that the firm had relocated to a new factory at Greenfield from its Deeside plant, and has implemented a “root and branch” safety review.
Judge Niclas Parry referred to the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”. It was “a horrendous accident”, said the judge. “The worker had suffered dreadful injuries, and it was clear that no guidance or instruction had been provided to her
Mainetti UK was fined £60,000 with £21,600 costs.
Following the hearing, HSE Inspector David Wynne spoke about the matter –
“These horrific, life-changing injuries sustained by Ms Nield could easily have been avoided if the right safeguarding measures had been taken by Mainetti (UK) Ltd. There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts. It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.”