Monthly Archives: March 2013

Employee of Smurfit Kappa UK Severs Fingers in Accident

Packaging company Smurfit Kappa UK has recently pleaded guilty to health and safety regulation violations after an employee had his fingers severed while working at its factory in Whitehaven. In September 2010, the accident occurred when the 25-year-old employee from Egremont was working with a 35-tonne power press for the purpose of stamping out metal lids for cardboard whisky bottle packaging. While he was testing out a part that had just been replaced in the machine, the employee lost two fingers on each hand and two more fingers on his right hand were severed at the knuckle.

Later, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that the employee’s supervisor had left the company four months before the accident occurred and had been replaced subsequently by staff that had not been sufficiently trained. Furthermore, it was also discovered that the injured staff member had not been correctly trained and that no suitable risk assessment existed for the operation.  Smurfit Kappa UK, on 21 March at Carlisle Crown Court, pleaded guilty to breaching a Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 regulation and was fined £200,000 in addition to £19,308 prosecution in costs.

Following the hearing, Andrew Jewitt, a HSE Inspector said –

“The employee was off work for ten months due to the extent of his injuries, but they will continue to affect him for the rest of his life. He now struggles with everyday activities, like writing and cutting up food, which most of us take for granted. The risk of serious injury from power presses is well known in the manufacturing industry and the worker’s injuries could have been avoided if Smurfit Kappa had made sure he and his supervisors had been properly trained. He added: “Incidents like this will continue to happen if employers don’t take the risks seriously.”


Warehouse Worker Killed by Forklift Truck

Ann Brennan, 49, was crushed to death in an accident involving a forklift truck loading pallets of Pringles in Bristol. An inquest at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court has heard that the warehouse based in the Avonmouth has had several ‘near-misses’ in the past. It was recorded as an accidental death by Coroner Gail Elliman following deliberations from the jury for half an hour.

Ann’s sister Deborah Teagle, 51, spoke out about her sister –

‘Annie was such a bubbly, selfless character and she was a rock for the family, looking out for us all and caring for our dad. She enjoyed her job at the factory and had been there most of her working life. She was very loyal. When we received the call to say what had happened we were just in complete shock. It didn’t feel real that Annie, who was always so full of life, was gone. The emergency services and air ambulance were amazing and did everything they could to try and save her and we want to thank them for the amazing service they provide.

Sadly, nothing could be done for Annie, but they save thousands of other lives every year. It has been very difficult to hear that safety precautions were lacking at the warehouse which may have saved Annie but we hope changes have been made at the warehouse and are working to protect other employees. Nothing will bring Annie back but it would give us some peace of mind to know her death was not completely in vain.’

There is currently an on-going investigation being conducted by Bristol City Council into health and safety at the warehouse and it is unlikely to conclude for another several months. A safety inspector speaking at the inquest spoke of how he had witnessed members of staff using loading equipment as scooters at the Avonmouth Booker Wholesale cash and carry when he examined CCTV footage after the death of the warehouse assistant in 2011.Furthermore, there was no speed limit and no division between pedestrians and vehicles in the loading bay where the tragic accident took place.

Ann, who was also an enthusiastic player of amateur rugby, died when the gas-powered forklift truck reversed in the warehouse in December 2011. By the time Paramedics arrived her heart had stopped and she was not breathing. She was subsequently resuscitated on the way to Frenchay Hospital in an air ambulance, however she later died from multiple fractures and internal injuries not long after arriving in hospital. The inquest also heard that the forklift truck which struck Ms Brennan was driven by replenishment supervisor Ben Morris. Mr Morris spoke of how the accident occurred when he was loading pallets of Pringles into the rear of a lorry for a delivery –

‘As I was reversing round I looked over my shoulder and I couldn’t see anything. Then I felt the rear left wheel lift up in the air. I slammed the brake on and I jumped out of the forklift and started screaming and that’s all I can remember.’

Stephen French, Booker area manager, was at the front reception of the store when he was notified about the incident. Upon arriving, he found staff attempting to lift the forklift off of Ms Brennan – an impossible task. On the matter he said – ‘It couldn’t be done, but under the circumstances people were just trying to do whatever they could.’ Following this Mr French was asked about health and safety policies in the warehouse and he admitted there was ‘no segregation policy at that time’ between pedestrians and vehicles, with ‘no existing policy in the goods-in area’ and ‘no speed limit’.

The driver of the lorry that was being loaded, Ronald Crandon, told the court he had witnessed similar incidents before. He said that he believed there were safety measures enforced. The then went on to say that he had seen a ‘near miss’ and had a ‘bump’ with a forklift while using a pallet truck and this had resultantly led to lines being drawn to separate pedestrians. However, Paul Tregale, the Bristol City Council health and safety inspector, said there were no such measures in place and that members of staff lacked awareness in risk assessment.

West Bromwich Glass Works Fined £7000 for Worker’s Lost Finger

Bloomsbury Glass Ltd’s factory in Kelvin Way has been ordered to pay £7,000 by Sandwell Magistrates Court after a worker’s finger was crushed in machinery and was subsequently amputated. 32 year old Glass worker, Asif Hussain, was providing assistance to his colleague with freeing a large piece of glass when the accident occurred. Mr Hussain’s ring finger was so seriously damaged that amputation was necessary. He has been rendered unable to work and his right hand is still painful and swollen.

The accident happened when Mr Hussain, of Sparkbrook, entered the confines of the machine through a space in the surrounding fencing. While he was discussing the best way of removing the  glass with his co-worker, his glove became was caught in the rotating drive shaft and his right hand was pulled in as a result. An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the machine was improperly guarded after Bloomsbury Glass was moved to the Kelvin Way site. One of the firm’s maintenance engineers did indeed modify and install guard panels, however they left a gap.

Bloomsbury Glass Ltd was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £4,928 costs after they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. Dave Rama, manager of Bloomsbury Glass Ltd said –

“The worker should not have been there in the first place. The machine is now guarded, and I am confident it will not happen again.”

Factory Worker in Sheffield Receives £6,500 after Breaking Foot at Work

A factory worker in Sheffield has received a sum of £6,500 in compensation after his foot was broken when he was provided with incorrect equipment for moving alloy bars. Michael Kirby, a machine operator from Southey, sustained two fractured metatarsals in his left foot and was rendered unable to work for seven weeks following his accident at Ross and Catherall in Killamarsh.

47-year-old Kirby had been trained to transport 5ft long alloy bars from the floor to a machine, by method of picking them up with a scissor clamp and swinging them in. However, one of the bars fell from the scissor clamp and landed on his foot during a shift. Despite the fact that he was wearing steel -capped boots that contained a built-in metatarsal guard, the impact of the bar broke his foot.

After the accident occurred, staff at the alloy manufacturing factory were instructed to move the bars closer to the floor before raising them to the level of the machine instead of swinging them around. Following this, an alternative type of clamp with curved interlocking forks was brought in to move the alloy bars. Ross and Catherall accepted liability for the accident and a claim was settled out of court after contact was made by solicitors instructed by the GMB union.

About the accident Mr Kirby said –

“After the accident I was virtually housebound for several weeks. I found it difficult to get around on crutches and could only get upstairs by using a stairlift we fortunately already had. I was frustrated at being injured when I was only doing my job in the way I had been told to.It was obviously a dangerous system because after my accident steps were taken to prevent swinging the bars and we were provided with a different type of clamp to move the bars.”

The GMB union’s Andy Worth said –

“Our member was injured because he had been trained to move these alloy bars in an unsafe way. There was no risk assessment of the job which would have highlighted the danger of swinging the bars and the need for a more appropriate clamp to be used to prevent workers being injured.”

Thompsons Solicitors’, Teresa Marriott said –

“This employer failed to take into consideration the health and safety ramifications of the job. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide suitable work equipment and to ensure safe systems of work are used. In this case a quick assessment would have highlighted the potential dangers of the method and equipment used and would have been cheaper than paying compensation to an injured worker.”