Paper manufacturer hit with £75,000 fine after failing in duty to supervise employees…
A paper company has been fined after an employee sustained serious injuries to his left arm when it got caught in dangerous machine parts.
The 54-year-old accident victim had been working as a coaterman at the papermill when the accident occurred on 15 October 2010. He had been working at the mill for 17 years at the time of the accident and had experience using the paper coating machine that was involved in the accident since it was installed at the plant in 2003.
Stonehaven Sheriff Court heard that the man was cleaning the machine on the day of the accident and had used a small ladder to reach some internal parts when he lost balance and his left arm became trapped inside the machine – he managed to pull himself free but not until his arm had sustained significant injury.
The accident victim required surgery so that two metal plates were inserted into his fractured left arm and he has also been left with permanent scarring. He still hasn’t regained full mobility in the injured arm and has been informed by medical professionals that it is unlikely that his arm will ever be recovered to former strength. He has since returned to work at the mill but is only able for less strenuous tasks.
The investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the accident revealed that although the company had provided training for use of the machine initially, it had since become apparent that workers were employing unsafe working practices when using it. The HSE concluded that management at the mill had not ensured the machines were being operated in a safe manner and failed to supervise the use of the machines to ensure the safety of their employees.
The paper manufacturer was fined £75,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE Inspector John Radcliffe commented after the hearing had concluded:
“Although the company had established a safe system of work for cleaning the rolls of the paper machine some time ago, this had clearly deteriorated over time and there was a failure in management supervision.
“As a result, the very unsafe practice of cleaning rolls at full production speed by some employees was not detected and this was allowed to continue for several years until the incident occurred.
“The injuries suffered by this worker were serious and life changing for him, but could have also been far worse as there is a history in the paper industry of amputation and fatal injuries occurring when safe systems of work are not adopted when cleaning or maintaining paper machines.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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