Fatal accident at work leads to company fine

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A Manchester-based company has been fined after a worker was trapped and fatally injured by a machine at the firm’s factory.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company for failing to provide a safe system of work which led to a death at its site.

Employers shouldn't put workers at risk of an accident at work – personal injury claims

Pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the firm was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £43,352.

Reading Crown Court heard that a 24 year old worker, was operating an automatic machine which inspects rolls of rubber and cloth printing blanket prior to customer dispatch.

Although nobody saw the incident, co-workers heard a cry at about 2am on 15 January 2008. The worker was found dead with his left arm, shoulder, head and torso trapped between the machine’s rubberised blanket and the roller.

Lisa Sheldon, Manchester based Personal Injury Solicitor at Simpson Millar LLP, said that the workplace accident underlined the value of employees being accompanied when operating some types of equipment, particularly on late shifts with fewer personnel around. "While working alone is certainly not illegal, firms still have a duty of care," said Lisa. "They should abide by the provisions of the Health & Safety at Work Act, which include identifying working hazards, assessing risks and controlling the risk potential by way of adequate safety measures."

According to an HSE investigation, the company had not assessed the hazards of using the machine and the equipment had been unchecked after modification. There was no guard to prevent access to dangerous parts, while the firm failed to give adequate employee information, instruction or training in the machine’s use.

HSE Inspector Ray Kelly said: "This needless tragedy is typical of what can happen when health and safety management systems fail. Had the hazards been assessed, the lack of any guarding would have been highlighted, and this death could have been avoided."

"Companies should realise that when there are flagrant breaches of health and safety law HSE will prosecute."

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