Factory Injuries Prompt Workplace Safety Calls

Firm Pleads Guilty To Health And Safety Failings

14.11.2011

14.11.2011

A Nottinghamshire factory has been fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,603 after a production worker suffered horrific injuries when his hand became trapped by heated rollers as he tried to clean a machine that lacked basic safety equipment.

Lawyers specialising in health and safety incidents at work urged companies across the UK to learn from the case, which saw the 52-year-old trapped for more than an hour as fire-fighters worked to free him, hospitalised for a week and unable to return to work for five months.

Stephen Nye from law firm Irwin Mitchell went on to welcome steps taken by the HSE to investigate the incident in May 2010, and said the fine acted as a ‘stark reminder’ to employers what can happen if health and safety is not a top priority.

The man suffered fractures, and burns to his hands, arms and fingers as a result of the incident, when the rubber gloves he was wearing became trapped in the rollers which were heated to 40 degrees Celsius.

His hand was dragged in to the machine and when he tried to free himself, his other hand also became trapped whilst working at Amber Composites Ltd.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found there was no guarding to prevent access to the moving rollers and the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment for the cleaning of the machine.

Nye said: “Sadly, this is the type of incident we see time and time again, where basic health and safety measures are not put in place and where staff are not sufficiently trained to use the equipment they work with day in and day out.

“Whilst we welcome steps taken by the HSE to ensure companies who fail to protect workers are called to answer for their actions, it is the right of every employee to go to work and come home safely and cases such as this should act as a stark reminder for those responsible.

“No one should have to suffer as a result of wholly avoidable incidents such as this, and it is imperative that lessons are learnt and shared throughout the industry to prevent such injuries being sustained going forward.”

After the hearing HSE inspector Fiona Coffey said: “This was an entirely avoidable incident which left a man with severe injuries. The company had a legal duty to prevent access to dangerous parts of their machinery, but failed to comply with this duty.

“It had become common practice to clean the machine with the rollers still running. The company failed to proactively assess the risks of cleaning this machine. The risks of running rollers and unguarded machinery are well documented by the HSE and free guidance is available on our website. Employers should ensure measures are taken to prevent access to dangerous machinery parts.”

Amber Composites Ltd, of Station Road, Langley Mill, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety management.