Work colleague restarted dealletiser machine while colleague was still inside…
A father of three was killed at a Nestle plant in Halifax in Decemeber 2008 after a colleague restarted a conveyor-belt type machine called a depalletiser while he was still inside it.
Bradford Crown Court heard that Nestle had failed to undertake the necessary safety protocols that might have prevented his death and decided to fine the company £180,000.
HSE investigators have speculated that the accident victim may have entered the depalletizer machine in order to remove a blockage as an alarm had sounded earlier in the day indicating that some large confectionery tins had jammed the machine.
The alarm sounded once again later that day and the colleague of the victim walked around the machine to check that nobody was inside. It is a large piece of machinery and he obviously failed to notice his workmate was still inside. He decided to restart the machine to check if it was still functioning, but it halted suddenly and the alarm resounded. The body of the victim was discovered crouched inside and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
The subsequent HSE investigation discovered that there was a safety key that could have brought the machine to a stop safely but employees had not been made aware of it nor had they been informed how to use it. The HSE were also critical of Nestle for failing to take the necessary safety precautions for guarding the palletising machines especially after having received a letter back in 2002 specifically asking them to take action on this matter.
A victim impact statement from the daughter of the man who died was relayed to the court:
“The death of my father came as a complete shock and my mother has been left in pieces by his death. She grieves to this day and still asks questions as to how and why it happened.
“My father was well thought of in the community and helped his family and friends. Not only did he provide for the immediate family, but also his mother and family in Pakistan.
“Our lives have undergone a complete change, and for that we blame Nestle for not having the proper fail-safes in place to stop something like this occurring.”
Jackie Ferguson, a HSE Inspector involved in the case also commented on the tragedy:
“This was a terrible tragedy that could have been so easily avoided. Nestle failed to ensure robust systems were in place to control safe entry into the depalletiser and prevent the machine being re-started whilst someone was in the danger zone.
“A family has been left without a father and a provider due to Nestle’s inexcusable negligence. If anything positive is to come out of this terrible incident it is that other firms take note.
“Companies should be aware HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall so far below the required standards.”
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