Category Archives: Factory Accidents

Tin Can Manufacturer Fined after Worker is injured

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.”

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.”

Business Man and his Company Fined after Worker Sustains Injuries

A South London businessman and his company, Granite Express Ltd (which went into liquidation in November 2012) based in Beddington Lane, Croydon, have been prosecuted for violating health and safety regulations by Westminster magistrates for an incident where an employee was almost crushed by collapsing stone slabs. The dangerous incident occurred on 16 February 2012 when workmen were unloading the two tonne set of ten slabs from a lorry, when suddenly they fell from the side of it.

Radoslaw Samson, 24, an employee at Granite Express, had just removed supporting packaging from the slabs so that they could be moved by a forklift when the incident occurred.  The slabs toppled when he was making necessary adjustments to the lifting arm of the forklift. Mr Samson and his colleague attempted to jump from the side of the lorry, however Samson was hit by the heavy slabs and subsequently sustained a broken leg and severe bruising to his right side. He was on crutches for six months and was rendered unable to work for ten; he did not return to employment at the company.

Granite Express Ltd and its former director Przemyslaw Zalecki, 37 were investigated and resultantly prosecuted by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident. They were charged with joint safety failings. The company had once before been served a prohibition notice by the HSE when a routine inspection in June 2010 discovered that the lifting arm of the crane was it was not suitable for operating. Mr. Zalecki was advised on how to better adhere to workplace health and safety protocols and how to more effectively assess the risk of equipment used to transport stone slabs.

It was later discovered that the same crane was still in use at the company even after the injuries that Mr Samson sustained. Furthermore, it was found that in addition to the fact that the crane had not received required servicing and maintenance; workers had not been trained adequately to operate this machinery. There was no safe work practice in place and also a lack of supervision for workers provided by Mr Zalecki and his company. Granite Express Ltd admitted two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act l974 and was fined a total of £2,000 with £5,000 in costs. Przemyslaw Zalecki was also fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after he admitted to two similar violations of the Act.

Following the hearing, Jane Wolfenden, a HSE inspector stated –

“A young man was very seriously injured because of the cavalier attitude tor safety by Mr Zalecki and his company, Granite Express Ltd. Bearing in mind the weight of these stone slabs, it is fortunate that this was not a double fatality.

“Despite the high risk of serious personal injury involved in the handling and moving of stone slabs being well known in the industry, and despite specific advice to devise a safe system of work for unloading them from a vehicle, the defendants failed to respond.

“The attitude towards health and safety was so poor that the company even permitted the continued use of a lifting attachment that had been subject to a prohibition notice.

“HSE will not hesitate to take action against either companies or their directors whose approach to the wellbeing of their employees fall so well below accepted standards.”

Packaging Firm Fined £200,000 after Worker Suffered Serious Hand Injuries

Smurfit Kappa UK Ltd, a packaging firm, has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £19,308 in prosecution costs by Carlisle Crown Court after a 25-year-old employee had his hands stuck in heavy machinery and subsequently sustained serious injury at their Whitehaven factory on 14 September 2010. The employee from Egremont, who wishes not to be named, ended up suffering the loss of four fingers and severed parts of two others in the accident at the company’s site at Richmond Works in Hensingham.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company following their investigation which discovered that the employee had not been tried adequately prior to the accident and that he also had not been supervised at the time. At the time of the accident the employee was working on a power press, a machine which applies a force of up to 35 tonnes for the purpose of stamping out metal lids, which is then used either at the end of cardboard tubes or for packaging for whisky bottles.

He had been changing the lid producing part of the machine, while trying to make sure that it was producing the correct lid size. To remove the lid, he reached under the pressing tool.  This pressing tool then stamped down on his hands. He subsequently lost the little and ring fingers on his left hand, the ring and middle fingers on his right hand in addition to the little and index fingers on his right hand which had been severed to the second knuckle.

Apparently the employee’s supervisor had left the company four months prior to the incident, however workers that replaced this supervision had not been given adequate training. Furthermore, the injured employee had not been trained sufficiently prior to the incident and adequate risk assessment had not been carried out.

HSE Inspector Andrew Jewitt stated –

“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.

“Incidents like this will continue to happen if employers don’t take the risks seriously.”

Paper Company Fined after Worker’s Hand is Crushed

Cotek Papers Ltd, a Gloucestershire paper producer, has been fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,483 in costs by Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court after an unguarded machine crushed a 43-year-old employees hand as they attempted to clean it. The worker, who does not want to be named, sustained severe cuts and bruising to his right hand when it was caught in a paper coating machine rollers on 2 April 2012. He was rendered unable to work for two months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation following the incident and discovered that when the coating material was changed, the rollers often had to be cleaned several times a day. Generally risk guards protected the five rollers. These guards had to be removed for cleaning, however, which exposed employees to health and safety risks. The company should have provided an alternative, safer method of cleaning the rollers.

HSE Inspector Ann Linden said:

“This incident could have been prevented had there been a safe system of work for cleaning the rollers. Cotek Papers Ltd clearly failed to ensure the safety of its employees, with painful consequences for the injured worker.

“The law clearly states that employers should take all reasonably practicable steps to protect employees from harm arising from their work. In the case of machinery, moving parts that could cause injury should be guarded or made safe so that people cannot come into contact with them. Non-routine operations such as cleaning or maintenance are not exempt from this requirement.”

Logistics Firm Admits Guilt after Worker Suffers Neck Injuries

Palletways (UK) Ltd, a Lichfield logistics firm located in Wood End Lane, Fradley, has been ordered to pay fines by Stafford Crown Court after a forklift driver, 60 year old Barry Hill, suffered neck injuries when, while trying to load a computer cabinet onto a truck, it fell on top of him. The accident occurred at Fradley Distribution Park after Mr. Hill discovered that one of the cabinets was rocking on the forks. Mr Hill subsequently got out of the forklift to prevent the cabinet from falling, but it fell forward and hit him on the head which knocked him to the ground. His neck and right wrist were broken and he has not worked since the incident on occurred 22 August 2008.

Following his accident Mr Hill was suffering from a visible head wound, however, the depot manager took him around the site to find help instead of leaving him to rest in the office with a colleague, as he did not know who the first aid people on the site were. A trained first aider did finally provide medical treatment to Mr Hill, however they did not realise how severe his injuries were. An ambulance was not called and Mr Hill was driven by the first aider to the local hospital which lacked an emergency room. Mr Hill was then airlifted to Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham. Mr Hill was in hospital for 6 weeks and 14 weeks in halo traction. To this day still suffers from neck discomfort. Because of the incident he is now partially disabled.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that Palletways (UK) never assessed the health and safety risks of moving and loading goods and had failed to supervise employees properly. Furthermore, the company did lacked a system for treating employees who had been involved in an accident and sustained injury.

Palletways (UK) Ltd, admitted guilt to violating Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 and £41,339 costs.

Lyn Spooner, a HSE inspector said that the accident Mr Hill was involved in was entirely preventable and could have left him paralysed or dead. She then went on to say –

“Any company that carries out lifting operations must assess the risks thoroughly, especially the need for proper training and supervision. There is no excuse for failing to do this, especially as free guidance is available from HSE.

“There was also a string of management failings in dealing with Mr Hill when he reported the incident. It was clear that he had suffered a head injury and Palletways (UK) should have treated this as a very serious incident and called an ambulance immediately.”

Healthcare Manufacturer Fined after Worker Loses Thumb

Synergy Health (UK) Ltd  a healthcare manufacturer has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,573 by Leyland Magistrates’ Court after a 39-year-old employee at their factory in Chorely trapped his thumb in machinery and lost part of it 27 November 2011 . Following the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation and discovered that the guards on the dry wipes machine that the employee was using were inadequate, in addition to the fact that the worker had not been given proper training.

As the worker was using the machine, he reached into the tunnel that comes out of machine to in order to prevent it from being blocked by incorrectly cut wipes. His hand was subsequently caught in the conveyor belt. The conveyer belt forced the workers thumb against a metal plate and it was severed to the first knuckle. It was found that the company had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of the work that he was doing, so they were unaware of the risks his hands faced.

HSE Inspector Christina Goddard stated following the hearing –

“This incident could easily have been avoided if Synergy Health had carried out a proper assessment of the risks and made sure its employees were properly trained.

“The risk of workers hands becoming trapped by moving conveyor belts in well known in the industry and so it is important suitable guards are in place.

“If the guards the company installed following the incident had been there at the time then it is extremely unlikely the employee’s hand would have become trapped.”


Chemical Manufacturing Company Fined after Workers Exposed to Toxic Substances

Endeavour Speciality Chemicals Ltd, a chemical manufacturing company from Daventry, Northamptonshire has been fined by Northampton Magistrates’ Court for exposing its employees to a variety of hazardous chemicals.  A 46-year-old despatch officer who worked for the company developed occupational asthma and rhinitis after she handled numerous toxic substances – used in the process food production – that were categorised as being a health hazard. The former despatch officer now has another job in the firm as she has been rendered unable to work with chemicals any longer.

Employees of the company were expected to manually pour substances into containers to despatch to customers, despite the fact that they were not provided with ventilation or workplace necessary health and safety measures. It was discovered by a Health and Safety Executive investigation that the company had not adequately assessed the dangers of the chemicals they used, or the extent of how it could affect the employees that had been exposed to it, in addition to failing to impose preventative measures

Endeavour Speciality Chemicals Ltd was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 after they pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1), and 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

James Wright, a HSE inspector, had this to say on the matter –

“The company’s failure to assess the risks, and implement control measures for what was a simple work process, has resulted in an employee suffering years of ill health, and has probably prevented her from ever working with chemicals again.

“The measures that were required to have made this work safe were inexpensive and not difficult to implement. These could have included effective fume cupboards suitable for the work, local exhaust ventilation, good hygiene practices, exposure monitoring and suitable PPE. Companies should ensure they have suitable arrangements in place to manage the risks from the handling of hazardous substances.”

“Every year, thousands of workers are made ill by hazardous substances, contracting lung disease such as asthma, cancer and skin disease such as dermatitis. These diseases cost many millions of pounds each year to industry, to replace the trained worker, to society, in disability allowances and medicines, and individuals, who may lose their jobs.”

West Yorkshire Firm Fined after Worker Shatters FInger and Thumb

CCL Label Ltd in Pioneer Way, Castleford, West Yorkshire has been ordered by Leeds Magistrates to pay fines after an employee had his thumb and finger shattered by a printing press on 27 February 2012. Extensive medical treatment was required for 55 year old Derek Shield, of Tingley, after he suffered this horrendous injury such as a skin graft and the necessary pinning his thumb and index finger under a bandage for several months. The incident occurred when Mr Shield’s hand was drawn into the printing press as he was cleaning it.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into the incident discovered that the accident could have been avoided if the machine’s dangerous parts had been adequately protected. While he was in the process of cleaning a central impression drum, Mr Shield felt around for any loose or foreign objects as it rotated for the purpose of removing them. Unfortunately, his left hand was drawn into the machine by the nip point.

It was found that a guard covering the nip point of the machine had been removed two years before. There was no safety checks made to ensure that a guard was there before the machine was again used. CCL Label Ltd had failed to take steps to rectify this potential hazard. Subsequently, the company was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,141 in costs after they admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Newton stated –

“Mr Shield’s injury could have been avoided if there had been an effective guard in place. In addition employees need training in how to clean machinery safely. Companies should ensure there are regular checks on machine guards and that employees are properly supervised to ensure unsafe work practices do not develop.

“Unguarded or poorly guarded machinery is the cause of many injuries in workplaces across the country. In 2010/11 over 1,000 people were seriously injured from contact with dangerous moving parts of machines.

“Employees should not be exposed to risks to their safety through their everyday work.”


Metal Components Firm is Fined for Head Injury

Wyman-Gordon Ltd, a manufacturing company which produces metal components has been ordered by Lincoln Magistrates’ Court to pay fines following the serious injury of a young employee at one at its factory at the Tower Works site on Spa Road in Lincoln on 20 October 2010. The agency worker, who does not wish to be name, is twenty years old. He fractured his skull and sustained serious facial injuries when in the middle of working with a hand-held grinder, the grinding wheel broke. It came loose from the grinder, broke through his visor and hit his face. After the incident the man had to undergo extensive reconstructive surgery, but not before having to go through a five-hour operation for the purpose of removing a bone that was touching his brain. He has subsequently returned to work.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and discovered that this particular employee had not been adequately trained in how to correctly and safely use the hand-held grinder and what precautions should be taken when the grinding wheels needs to be changed. As a result, the grinding wheel that he had changed was more than likely defective before he used it. The employee may have noticed this defect if he had been properly trained before using the grinder. It was also found that the young agency worker had not been supervised when carrying out this work.

Wyman-Gordon Ltd located in Wiggin Works, Holmer Road, Hereford, was fined £16,500 and ordered it to pay full costs of £6,178 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector, Scott Wynne stated following the hearing:

“It is vital that workers who use hand-held grinders get appropriate training in their safe use and in how to change the grinding wheels properly. Most importantly operators need to know how to identify defects.

“Had this worker undergone such training, he may have been able to identify the defective wheel prior to using it.

“This was a preventable incident. Wyman-Gordon Ltd paid insufficient heed to the safety of this worker. As a result, a young man was left with a horrific head injury. He was extremely lucky to escape with his life.”

Bedford Food Company Fined For Employee Fall

European Oat Millers Ltd, a Bedford grain milling company in Mile Road has been prosecuted by Bedford Magistrates’ Court after a an employee fell and was injured during a night shift. The 45 year old employee, Mark Askham, of Putnoe, Bedford was climbing pipework to unblock a feed pipe when he fell nearly three metres on to the concrete ground. Mr Askham sustained broken ribs, cuts and bruising in the accident which occurred on 26 February 2011.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and discovered that it could have been prevented if the company had basic safety measures to protect workers from falling while working at a height. In the the basement of the nine-storey mill Mr Askham had located a blockage to a pipe. There were no ladder or platform available, so Mr Askham climbed on pipework close to him and sat on one of the pipes in order to get to the blockage. He subsequently lost his balance and fell three metres, hitting pipes below prior to hitting the ground.

European Oat Millers Ltd admitted guilt to violating Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £12,000 and £3,712 in costs.

HSE Inspector Emma Rowlands had this to say on the matter –

“This incident was entirely preventable. Mr Askham’s injuries could have been far more serious than they were. European Oat Millers Ltd had made a commitment some years earlier to review all work at height activities yet there was no evidence that had been carried out.

“You do not have to fall from a great height to either lose or ruin your life. Work at height remains one of the most significant causes of fatalities and major injuries among employees.

“Employers who put people at risk of serious injury or illness can expect to face enforcement action and for the worst offences criminal prosecution through the courts.”

In 2010/11 there were 775 falls from over 2 metres height according to HSE.

West Midlands Company Fined after Worker Sustains Head Injuries

H&E Knowles (Lye) Limited, a West Midlands company in Waterfall Lane, Cradley Heath , has been ordered by Dudley and Halesowen magistrates to pay fines after a worker sustained serious head injuries because of a pneumatic metal press. Maintenance engineer, Wayne Hill, 42, of Lye, Stourbridge, was in the midst of repairing the press when suddenly it started working again and it had begun to crush his head. The press had him trapped for ten minutes before he was set free by colleagues. He suffered multiple severe injuries – he broke his nose and jaw, he ripped off his upper lip and his tongue was completely bitten through. In addition to these horrific injuries, Mr Hill also suffered lacerations to the back of his head and neck, arm muscle damage, excruciating neck pain and his left side was left bruised and scratched.

Much reconstructive surgery was necessary for Mr Hill. Furthermore, his upper lip and nose have increased sensitivity in addition to pain in his teeth and shoulder scarring suffered. Counselling was also necessary after Mr Hill started suffering emotionally with nightmares and flashbacks of the incident. He was rendered unable to work for nearly five months but now works at the company again. An investigation into the incident was conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and it discovered that the machine had a defective interlocking guard.

The press is used to take a sheet of metal and mould it into a wheelbarrow body and should not be able to work correctly if the door is open. In the instance of Mr Hill, a fault with the machine meant the it did not detect an open door. Furthermore, it was found that the machine was created and built by the company 25 years ago. As a result, there are no technical drawings or any other documentation available and an adequate risk assessment had never been completed on the machine. The machine broke down on a regular basis and maintenance staff did not have access to proper instructions with regards to fixing it.

H&E Knowles (Lye) admitted guilt to violating Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was ordered to pay a fine of £18,000 with £7,220 costs.

Following the hearing, John Glynn, a HSE inspector said:

“Mr Hill was extremely lucky not to have lost his life in this entirely preventable incident. The company should have provided safe equipment and a safe system of work for its staff. Instead, it failed almost entirely to comply with health and safety legislation in that it designed, built and operated a dangerous piece of machinery.

“There was a grossly inefficient assessment of risk, inadequate controls and a lack of supervisory oversight that exposed staff to terrible risks and left a man with horrific injuries.”

Car Parts Manufacturer Prosecuted by HSE

Auto-Plas (International) Ltd, a car parts manufacturer based in Essex, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for safety failings following an employee falling through a mezzanine floor at a factory in Hawkwell on 17 May last year. The employee of Auto-Plas, who does not want to be named, sustained a hand injury that required stitches and caused him to be unable to work for two weeks afterwards.

The employee had been asked to take apart a mezzanine floor in a production area at Benchmark Doors Ltd – Auto-Plas’s sister company. He then fell through a gap in the floor and landed in the level below. He subsequently hit his head off the floor and cut his hand trying to break his fall.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation and found that there had been no risk assessment done for the work that was carried out. In addition, the employee was in no way protected while he was working at height.

Auto-Plas (International) Ltd was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2502.45 in costs by Southend Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to violating Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was also requested that the firm pay £200 compensation to the employee who was injured in addition to a £15 victim surcharge.

HSE Inspector Keith Waller had this to say following the hearing –

“This incident was entirely preventable. With some simple planning, the work could have been done from the floor below and a risk assessment for the task should have been completed to assess dangers and identify safety measures.

“The employee suffered painful injuries as a result of a lack of planning and respect for health and safety rules. Working at height is dangerous and employers must ensure they plan ahead to protect their staff.”

“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who put lives at risk.”

More than 1,300 falls from height that resulted in injury were reported in 2010 – 2011.

Bacon Curing Company Fined after Worker Severs Three Fingers

A Walsall bacon curing company based at Leamore Lane, Bloxwich has been ordered to pay fines after an incident where an employee was operating machinery and lost three fingers. The company was prosecuted when 20 year old Daniel Wilfred severed three fingers after his hand became stuck in a packaging machine 23 December 2009.

The incident occurred when Mr Wilfred, from Walsall, was walking through the company’s curing department when he noticed that packs of bacon joints were falling to the floor from the cutting unit. Mr Wilfred then went to the side of the conveyor, leaned over and put his left hand into the cutting unit in an attempt to stop the bacon joints from falling. The machine was still switched on, unfortunately, and Mr Wilfred’s hand was then caught between the machine and the cutting blades. He subsequently lost three fingers up to the last joint.

In Wolverhampton Crown Court, John Cox Cold Stores and Distribution Services Ltd, trading as Midland Bacon Company, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £31,000 costs  after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 .

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Eve-Marie Edwards had this to about the incident:

“This incident was entirely preventable. The company had failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machinery which led directly to Mr Wilfred’s injuries.

“Lessons need to be learned by employers, to ensure that potentially dangerous machinery is suitably guarded and that their workers are aware of the risks involved when working with these machines.”

Worker Loses Part of Thumb in Adhesive Factory

Latrave Ltd, an adhesive tape manufacturer in Northamptonshire, has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident where a 19-year-old agency worker had his thumb severed by machinery at their Wellingborough factory on 25 August 2010. The worker had only been working there for three weeks when the incident occurred. He was in the middle of being trained in how to fix a printing press problem when two rollers in the machine pulled his left hand and it became stuck.

The worker was subsequently airlifted to Royal Derby Hospital’s specialist hand injury unit where it was necessary to amputate part of his thumb. He spent five days in hospital and was unable to work for nearly seven works. Physiotherapy is still a necessity for him and the injury he has sustained has prevented him from partaking in many of his his pastimes, including boxing and repairing bikes and cycling.

Investigation into the incident conducted by the (HSE) discovered that the machine was missing its guard and the way that the worker was being trained was not safe. Latrave Ltd was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by Wellingborough magistrates. The company was ordered to pay fines of £8,000 in addition to full costs of £14,736.

Mark Austin, a HSE inspector, said that the agency worker suffered serious, lifelong injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life all because of the health and safety negligence demonstrated by Latrave Ltd . He then stated –

“The machine had guards missing, he was shown dangerous practices like keeping it running while fixing it, and was not properly supervised for someone who had only worked for the company for less than three weeks. Companies need to make sure all guards are in place on their machines no matter who is using them, but inexperienced workers need greater training and supervision because of their lack of experience. HSE will inevitably take action against firms who fail in these ways.”

Company Fined after Worker Suffers Electric Shock

Tecvac, a coating and treatment company that has a plant situated in Swavesey, Cambridgeshire, has been ordered to pay fines by Cambridge Magistrates’ Court for breaching health and safety laws. The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident where a 45-year-old employee suffered an electric shock on 28 July last year.  The employee, Derek Offord who is from Sawston, was working as a machine operator at the company’s plant in Buckingway at the time.

The electric shock occurred while Mr Offord was checking new cables on a hardening machine that had received maintenance not long before the incident. He subsequently suffered open wounds on his forearm and left palm in addition to burns to his left arm and knee as a result. He had to stay in hospital for 12 days for treatment and was unable to work for a further four months. A HSE investigation discovered that Tecvac had did not have sufficient health and safety rules implemented in relation to the machine he operated with regards to how to properly use it and how to maintain electrical systems.

Tecvac Limited of Lodge Bank Works, Lord Street, Bury, Lancashire was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £5,382.70 in costs after pleading guilty to violating Regulation 4(3) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.

Alison Ashworth, HSE Inspector, had this to say following the hearing –

“Work with or near electricity is dangerous. This incident could have been prevented if the company had identified the risk and acted to control it. They could have prevented access to the live parts of the cables, insulated them or ensured that stored electrical energy had been discharged.

“HSE will not hesitate to take action where there is the risk of serious harm to people at work.”

Egg Company Prescuted for Worker Who Severed Fingers

Bumble Hole Foods Ltd, a Worcestershire egg company, has been fined by Redditch Magistrates’ Court following an incident in which a worker who was cleaning a drain on a production line severed two fingers 26 August 2010 . The 25 year-old employee lost a fraction of his index and middle fingers on his right hand when trying to clean around a heavy duty blade at the factory located in Fockbury, Bromsgrove.

An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that the risks of this task had not been sufficiently evaluated by employers and also that employees were exposed to dangerous moving parts while the blade was running. Due to a similar accident that occurred in 2008, Bumble Hole Foods Ltd were already aware of the risks. The HSE also found that the training for this work was performed by employees that were not permitted to train others.

Bumble Hole Foods Ltd was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,303  following an admission of guilt for violating Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Christopher Gregory, a HSE inspector said –

“This incident was entirely foreseeable and easily preventable. The risks of cleaning around the drain had not been adequately assessed or controlled so unfortunately, a much larger price has been paid, not least by their employee.

“This case shows the importance of learning from mistakes and ensuring that formal advice from the HSE is not ignored. Employers have a duty to act on their findings. If Bumble Hole Foods had taken prompt action after the previous incident, this could so easily have been avoided.”

Montracon Factory Fined after Death of 59-Year-Old Driver

Ronald Wood, a 59 year old driver for a Montracon factory in East Yorkshire, died following an incident where a six-metre steel machine was dislodged from overhead brackets and landed on top of him. The steel vacuum lifter, which weighed two thirds of a tonne, struck Mr Wood, who was from Holme-on-Spalding-Moor, after a trailer that was being towed from the factory knocked it from its mountings. An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the fatal accident found several safety failures at the Montracon premises.

At the time of the accident, Mr Wood had been stood beneath the steel lifter with a co-worker when the large trailer that was being towed out of the factory knocked off the  brackets which had been keeping the machine in place. This impact dislodged it and it fell and landed on top of Mr Wood. His co-worker was able to get away with only a minor injury. Mr Wood died in hospital died in hospital later that day.

Montracon Ltd of South Yorkshire was fined a total of £100,000 and ordered to pay £33,030 in costs by Hull Crown Court after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to two violations of Health and Safety legislation.

Following the hearing, the investigating HSE inspector, Steven Kay said that basic safety failings had led to a tragic and unnecessary death. He went on to say that if Montracon had adequately controlled the movement of the trailers in the area of the workshop, then they would have realised the safety risks, however it had failed to do this. Mr Kay then stated –

“Work changes had also taken place in the factory which should have led the firm to re-think the risks, but it did not. Whenever work activity changes, then risks must be reassessed.

“Montracon also failed to follow up several minor incidents which, had they been investigated, could have led to action to prevent this tragedy. All employers need to have a system to record near misses and investigate them. The resulting information could prevent loss of life.”

Air Conditioning Manufacturer Fined after Worker Damages Finger

Eaton Williams Group Ltd – which trades under the name of Colman Moducel, an air conditioning manufacturer, has been fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £4,105 costs by Fenton Magistrates’ Court after an incident in its Stoke-on-Trent factory where a 41 year-old  employee’s fingertip was cut off by a circular saw. The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the accident occurred at its factory in Oldfields Business Park, Birrell Street, Fenton on 16 February 2011.

The employee, who wishes not to be named, was trimming metal parts for a louvred screen with the saw when his middle finger touched the blade and the tip was cut off. Doctors were able to rectify the problem with his finger; however he has subsequently been permanently scarred as a result.

The investigation conducted by the HSE’s into the accident revealed that that there was a hazardous system in place for working with the saw. The top guard was not positioned correctly, furthermore, basic protection items like jigs and push sticks were not being utilised. Furthermore, adequate information, instructions, training or supervision in operating the saw had not be provided for the workers .The investigation also discovered that the machine’s emergency stop button was not functioning and blade continued to spin after it should have stopped because of the brake being ineffective.

Following the hearing, David Kivlin, a HSE inspector stated that incident never would have occurred if the company had assessed the risks of using the circular saw. He went on to say –

“Although the company had completed a risk assessment, it did not cover all the operations being carried out by its employees. A simple assessment of these additional tasks would have identified the need to provide protection devices in addition to the top guard.

“Companies must also make sure that all safety features, especially emergency stops, work properly on these potentially dangerous machines.

“HSE provides free guidance on the operation of circular saws, which specifically covers the issues of guarding and additional protection devices, and explains the need to provide suitable training, instruction and supervision.”



Crane Supplier Fined after Worker Dies

A specialist crane supplier has been fined £180,000 by Reading Crown Court after a 38 year-old worker was killed when he was working at an incinerator in Slough, Berkshire when a large steel beam fell on him. Colin Dickson from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, died because of the failure of the temporary suspension points on a suspended 1.4 tonne beam he was under at the Lakeside Energy from Waste installation in Colnbrook on 29 August 2007.

The steel beam fell five metres onto Mr Dickson which caused him to sustain fatal injuries to his chest, in addition to fractures legs and back. Five people were working on the installation of two cranes in the hall of a new incinerator building. In doing this it was necessary to lift two steel beams to a height of about 18 metres and weld them to the bottom of the roof beams.

Following an investigation into how the lifting operation failed Mr Dickson’s employers, J H Carruthers Ltd and one of its supervisors, John Hamiltonwere, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Karen Morris, a HSE Inspector, said that this tragic accident could have been prevented if proper planning and supervision had been implemented in the performing of this task, in addition to following health and safety laws to ensure the well-being of workers.

Both parties admitted guilt. J H Carruthers Ltd was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of £74,000. Mr John Hamilton was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £400.