Factory Worker Suffers Serious Head Injuries

Woman Injured As Her Head Is Trapped Between Two Machines

12.12.2013

A Welsh aluminium container manufacturer has been fined £13,000 after a woman was hospitalised with head injuries.

Envases (UK) admitted to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1988 and was also ordered to pay £6,590 in costs following a hearing at Neath Magistrates' Court.

Gaynor Gordon, 47, had attempted to free some aerosol cans that had fallen from the production line when the incident occurred.

As she leaned into the strapping machine, a can collection basket came down and trapped her head. Although her colleagues were able to quickly free her, she required treatment for a fractured cheek and eye socket.

The accident has had a long-term impact on the employee, as she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and has damaged vision in one eye. She only returned to work in October 2013 - 15 months after the incident happened.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the machine had not been adequately guarded.

In response to the accident, the company put fixed mesh guarding in place to avoid a repeat occurrence.

The HSE has brought numerous cases involving unguarded equipment to court recently and the regulator is keen to cut down on the number of injuries and fatalities caused by dangerous machinery.

Although the manufacturing sector accounts for ten per cent of the overall British workforce, it is responsible for one in five occupational accidents.

According to HSE statistics, around 13 per cent of reported major injuries involve moving machinery in some way.

Speaking about the Envases (UK) case, HSE inspector Clare Owen said the incident was "both foreseeable and preventable."

"Luckily, colleagues were quickly able to release Mrs Gordon, which minimised her injuries," she commented.

"However, it has had a massive impact on her and she has only recently returned to work."

Ms Owen added this prosecution should send a message to other manufacturers that they need to identify the risks involved when using machinery.