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Worker Suffers Severe Injuries When Trapped In Machine

Laundry Prosecuted After Teenager Sustains Leg and Spine Damage


A laundry company has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over an incident in which a teenage member of staff sustained serious back and leg injuries.

Cleantex employee Matthew Brown, aged 19 and from Telford, was trying to retrieve an item of clothing from an industrial laundry machine at the company's premises in the town when the accident occurred in October 2013.

He had climbed into the tunnel batch washing machine to take a piece of clothing out, having incorrectly thought it had finished its cycle. Instead, the moveable conveyor belt unit ended its cycle while he was inside and began to move downwards, trapping Mr Brown against the floor.

This caused him to suffer a broken ankle and four fractured vertebrae, leading to him spending nine days in hospital and seven months off work before he returned to light duties.

An HSE investigation found Cleantex had failed to take steps to ensure that the employee was not able to access dangerous moving parts of the machine. This section was not fixed or interlocked, even though the other access door to the machine had an interlock. That meant there was no barrier to a member of staff getting to moving parts while they were still operating.

Cleantex acknowledged this failing by pleading guilty in the hearing at Telford Magistrates' Court to a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £7,500 with costs of £750.

Speaking after the case concluded, HSE inspector Lyn Mizen said the incident "could easily have been avoided".

She added: "Cleantex Ltd failed to take simple steps to prevent its workforce from accessing dangerous moving parts of machinery.

"Companies need to ensure that suitable and sufficient safe systems of work, information, instruction and training are in place to manage and control the risks posed to their employees."

According to HSE figures, around 250,000 days of work a year are lost due to staff being harmed by moving machinery.

Expert Opinion
This incident highlights the impact a failure to comply with health and safety regulations can have, as a workers suffered severe and life-changing injuries, which required hospital treatment and forced him to take time of work to recover.

“Despite the HSE publishing guidelines related to the prevention of accidents at work, we continue to see cases such as this, where employers have failed to take their responsibilities for safety seriously by not carrying out the correct risk assessments, failing to implement the appropriate safety measures and not offering the correct training to members of staff.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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