Emballator UK Ltd – a manufacturer of tin cans – has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,769 in full costs by Bradford Magistrates’ Court after a 51-year-old worker from Holmewood sustained severe injuries following an incident when a 1.5 tonne pallet of tin plates fell and landed on his right lower leg and foot at the company’s factory in Tyersal. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) subsequently investigated the incident which occurred on 6 February 2012. They prosecuted the company when they discovered numerous safety failings. The worker in question, David Wain, who was employed as a coating assistant, was instructed to use an older machine to turn the tin plate because of a fault with the newer pallet turning machine.
Mr Wain had never used this older machine so a co-worker showed him how to load pallets in it for turning. Following this, Mr Wain used a forklift truck to pick up a pallet, and loaded the machine in the manner that his co-worker had showed him, which was by using empty pallets to wedge the pallets. He then turned the machine on. When the machine turned 180 degrees a few minutes later, he noticed the plates and pallets moving. He attempted to move out of the way, however, all of the metal fell from the machine and trapped his foot against the floor.
Mr Wain sustained several injuries, such as the severing of his big toe and the spliiting of the sole of his foot. He was able to get two of his toes surgically reattached and he also needed plates to be put into his ankle and screws in his lower leg.He spent 11 days in hospital. Since the accident, Mr Wain hasn’t been able to leave the house and also cannot walk without the aid of crutches. He may need to have his lower leg and foot amputated.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that the company had had not provided employees with safe equipment or a safe work system. Furthermore, Emballator UK Ltd had had not carried out a risk assessment for the older machine. In addition, there was no supervision of Mr Wain as he was using the machine for the first time, nor was it checked that he fully understood the process.
Andrea Jones, the HSE Inspector involved stated –
“Everyone has the right to come home from work safe and well. But David Wain suffered life-changing injuries in an incident that was preventable.
“Emballator UK Ltd failed in their duties to provide a suitable machine for turning pallets and a safe method of operation that Mr Wain could use. Manually securing the load in an open box by means of wedges or empty pallets is not a sufficiently reliable method of securing the load.
“A proper examination of the risks would have shown that there was a danger of the load shifting and falling from the machine, during or after turning. A simple clamping mechanism would have secured it, and was indeed applied to the newer machine.
“It is also essential that checks are made by managers to ensure operators are trained and competent to use the machines they provide, understand the risks and associated precautions to take.”