Polythene firm fined after its safety failings left employee with permanent injuries

A Widnes based polythene manufacturer, which makes film for the food industry, has been ordered to pay £40,000 following its prosecution for safety failings.

The accident occurred on 21 January 2014 during a night shift when the employee was operating a multi-winder machine that converts logs of stretch film polythene into smaller hand sized reels.

Trapped by the pivot arm

Before the pneumatic pivot arms, which hold the logs into position were switched on, the employee walked along the machine to ensure that the film was not damaged. After noticing debris, which could have damaged the roll, the employee tried to remove it however the pivot arm trapped him for over one minute before he was rescued by colleagues.

Chester Crown Court heard that the employee spent three days in intensive care and has lost function of one kidney and sustained injuries to his spleen and lungs.

A HSE investigation revealed that the company had previously identified a risk relating to pivot arms on similar machinery and correct measures were put in place. The investigation further established that had the same measures been applied to the machine in question, and had the company applied the relevant safeguards to ensure employees were safe when using the equipment, the accident could have been avoided.

Outcome

British Polythene Ltd of One, London Wall, London pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The company was fined £20,000 for each breach and order to pay prosecution costs of £10,033.

Prevention by risk assessments

HSE inspector, Adam McMahon, spoke after the hearing and reiterated the importance of ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments. He addressed the idea that, had a risk assessment been done, ‘the necessary control measures could have been implemented to prevent the accident from occurring.’

Ian Kay is a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor and Partner at Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP. Contact Ian and our PErsonal Injury team about your workplace accident claim and our legal services today at ikay@gadllp.co.uk or call 0151 236 5000.

Sources:

http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/polythene-firm-sentenced-over-employees-life-threatening-injuries

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/2306/regulation/11/made

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1999/3242/regulation/3/made