Worker has to have arm amputated at shoulder and suffers multiple fractures after accident…
A company from Durham has been prosecuted after one of their employees sustained horrific injuries which required one of his arms to be amputated after he fell into dangerous machinery at an asphalt production plant.
The 61-year-old accident victim was inspecting the conveyor area of the plant in an industrial estate in Newcastle when the accident occurred on 18 June 2009.
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court was told that the man lost his footing and fell onto the conveyor belt after he accessed the conveyor area of the premises to carry out an inspection. He subequently became caught up in a pulley roller on the conveyor belt that made it difficult for him to escape.
His injuries were widespread and severe; he had to have his right arm amputated at the shoulder and sustained serious spinal injuries that required extensive surgery to fuse his spine back together. He also suffered multiple minor fractures, cuts and burns. He spent three weeks in intensive care and a further three months in hospital as his various injuries were treated. He is no longer able to work.
The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that despite the fact that the safety gates that led to the conveyor area had been fitted with locks, they had been disabled and workers could pass freely to the area near the conveyor belt without difficulty. It was also discovered that the system of work was not up to recommended safety standards, no adequate risk assessment was evident and that employees didn’t receive sufficient instruction and training about working in the proximity of dangerous equipment.
The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £18,994.17 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector Sal Brecken spoke after the hearing:
“The accident victim’s horrific injuries should not and need not have happened. This incident was easily preventable had the company carried out an adequate risk assessment of their equipment and properly supervised their employees.
“Plants of this type is recognised in the industry as being high risk, which is why they are so heavily guarded with trapped key systems. Safety devices are installed on machinery with dangerous moving parts to protect those who work with them. Companies have a legal duty of care to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times.
“Disabling or switching off safety devices puts workers at unnecessary risk and is simply not acceptable. HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action in cases such as this.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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