Recycling Firm In Neath Port Talbot Is Fined £90,000 After Worker Loses Arm

Worker Asked to Clean Conveyor Belt Loses Arm

04.11.2013

 

Neath Port Talbot Recycling Ltd has been fined £90,000 after an employee lost an arm in an accident which was "waiting to happen".

The recycling firm was also ordered to pay £50,000 in costs following the incident in 2011.

Back in 2007, Swansea Crown court heard a similar incident had happened and over the following years the firm had been warned about its health and safety measures.

Neath Port Talbot Recycling Ltd said it deeply regretted what happened to employee Stephen John.

The 57-year-old was asked to clean a conveyor belt which had become blocked with a sticky black substance known as flack, the court was told.

No risk assessment or a safe system of work for completing this task was in place. Experienced workers like Mr John had developed their own system.

This particular system of work was partly formed because the control switch was situated some distance away from the actual conveyor.

One employee stood by the control switch, out of sight from the conveyor and another person inserted a bar to scrape the flack from the roller. Mr John then inserted his arm to remove the flack.

A command was given to the switch controller and the conveyor was started and stopped quickly. The process was repeated until the roller was clean.

The court heard that the switch controller misinterpreted this as a signal and started the conveyor.

The right forearm of Mr John was trapped and amputated by the conveyor belt.

Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones said the potential for greater harm or a fatal accident was also a realistic possibility.

"The company failed to fully guard the conveyor around the tail end roller and this failure resulted in employees having access to dangerous parts of the machine," Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones commented.

"The risk of entrapment is well known in the industry, and this company could have taken simple steps to fit guarding.

"There was also no line of sight between Mr John and the employee operating the machinery and the company failed to carry out a risk assessment when the conveyor was installed.

"They also failed to devise a safe way of cleaning the rollers and to instruct employees on how to clean them safely."

Neath Port Talbot Recycling of Crymlyn Burrows, Swansea, pleaded guilty to two safety breaches.

Our serious injury claims team could help you claim compensation if you have suffered an injury at work that resulted in the amputation of a limb. Visit our Amputation Claims page or Accident at Work Claims page for more information.