Monthly Archives: April 2013

Halfiax Firm Fined after Teenage Warehouse Worker Breaks Leg

THS Industrial Textiles, a West Yorkshire company, has been fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,994 in full costs by Halifax Magistrates for breaching safely laws following an incident where a 1.5 tonne pallet fell on to an 18-year-old warehouse worker and trapped his legs. The worker sustained a broken leg in the incident which occurred in the company’s premises in Heathfield Business Park, in Elland on 16 March 2011. The teenager, who does not want to be named, had to spend three days in hospital and does not work for the company anymore.

After the accident, Health and Safety Executive (HSE conducted an investigation) and subsequently prosecuted the company after they discovered numerous failings with regards to health and safety. It was discovered that the company had a dangerous system of work when it came to pallet and incorrect equipment was provided to workers who therefore were unable to safely carry out the job.

The workers dragged the pallets across the container floor by using straps to bring them closer to the doors where a forklift truck would lift them. The forks also dragged them closer to the doors. Furthermore, this truck did not have a valid lifting certificate and it also was carrying weight that was above its capacity. Before the incident occurred a co-worker of the man had informed the company of this, but THS Industrial Textiles had done nothing to remedy the hazardous working situation.

David Welsh, a HSE Inspector, had this to say about the incident –

“A young worker suffered a serious injury that could have been far worse as a result of this company’s numerous failures. This was not an isolated breach as it was clear these unloading operations had been taking place in an unsafe manner for some time.

“THS Industrial Textiles was very poor at assessing and managing risks arising from this work, despite its dangers being well recognised within the industry.

“Unloading pallets appears to be a simple operation but it needs to be planned carefully, workers need the right equipment for each kind of unloading task, and the employer needs to actively supervise them.”

Staples Disposables Ltd Admits Poor Health and Safety Management after Three Employees are Injured

Following three separate incidents where factors workers sustained hand injuries from using unguarded machines, a Lincolnshire manufacturing firm of disposable paper products – Staples Disposables Ltd – has been ordered to pay fines and costs of £116,000. The company was prosecuted at Lincoln Crown Court on April 19 by The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after they investigated the three incidents at its factory located in Fulbeck Heath of Hurlingham Business Park near Grantham.

The first victim was Bruno Jorge, a 32 year old man from Sleaford. His left thumb was amputated after unguarded machinery on a production line crushed it on July 26th 2011. Mr Jorge was left unable to work for several months but has recently returned to employment at the company and has been assigned other duties.

The next victim was Yelena Semenchenko, a 30 year old agency worker from of Lincoln. Her incident occurred only a month after Mr Jorge’s on August 25th.  The blade of a napkin folding machine cut Ms Semenchenko’s finger and she has not subsequently returned to work for the company.

The third victim, Simon Burnett, aged 46 from Navenby, suffered the loss of all four fingers on his right hand a year later when it got caught between unguarded rollers. It is too soon to tell whether or not Mr Burnett will ever be able to return to work.

The court was told how Mr Jorge had been working on a new production line. When he went to clear a blockage in the machine – a common company practice – his hands got caught in the rollers. He not only suffered a crushed thumb but also a fractured palm. The HSE discovered that when the machine was being tested by engineers, the interlocked guards around the equipment had been overridden by the company for easy access. Management of the company were fully aware of this fact but failed to restore the interlocks.

With regards to the second accident it was found that an electrically-interlocked guard had been removed. This guard had been installed in 2007, after a similar incident had occurred where the company had been been prosecuted by the HSE. However, it was soon removed again within a few weeks of installing them.

The third accident occurred because of the company’s general practice to lock operators within an enclosure for the purpose of keeping them away from the hazardous aspects of the toilet paper production line. This dangerous practice was never noticed or stopped by the manufacturers or its management.

Staples Disposables Ltd pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching Sections 2(1) and one charge of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £85,000 and are liable to pay costs of £31,380.

David Lefever, a HSE inspector, had this to say after the hearing –

“Staples Disposables Ltd had a poor health and safety management system and failed to suitably supervise factory operations. The company was well aware that machines should have interlocked guards in place to prevent people accessing dangerous moving parts of the machinery, yet it continued to put workers at risk over a prolonged period. Injury was inevitable.”

Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited Fined after Employee Avoids Fatal Accident

Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited, an iron foundry located in Leys Road, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, has been fined by Dudley Magistrates’ Court after an employee fell off a collapsing platform and almost into a 1400 degree stream of molten metal in October 2011. The 42 year old man, who wishes not to be named, sustained bruising to his arm, neck and shoulders after he fell off the front of the platform. If he had fallen backwards, he would have landed in the deadly molten stream.

This platform that the man had been standing on was designed only to hold sampling equipment. However, an investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that employees of the foundry would often use the platform as a means to cross the production line and the conveyer. The company had failed to introduce sufficiently safe working practices and also failed to notice this unsafe practice that was being carried out by workers on a regular basis. The platform had collapsed due to this unsafe practice. It was then found that the other platforms in the vicinity were also old, unstable and missing vital safety features such as handrails.

Subsequently, Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited were fined £10,400 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974.

John Glynn, a HSE inspector, had this to say on the matter –

“The employee was extremely lucky to have only suffered bruising – as it was a matter of good fortune that he fell towards the front of the platform. He could so easily have fallen off the platform entirely, or worse, fallen backwards into the molten metal stream.

“The incident was entirely avoidable and occurred because the company failed to assess the risks and control the hazards associated with their work activities.

“The case demonstrates the importance of effective management. Had the company performed a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks surrounding the area, provided appropriate work equipment and effectively managed their employees’ systems of work, safety in this dangerous environment would have been significantly increased.”