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8th July 2019

Staircase Manufacturer and Director Both Fined After Worker Suffers Life Changing Injuries

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What’s Happened?

A wood product manufacturer based in St Helens along with one of the company directors has been fined a whopping £466,666 after a worker was dragged into a rotating drive shaft at their site

An agency worker was working on one of the factories production line making parts for staircases when her hair caught on a rotating drive shaft, resulting in the loss of her full scalp, ears and one of her thumbs. She suffered severe physical and mental trauma and has undergone numerous reconstructive operations and has been unable to return to work since the incident.

Investigation

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was undertaken in the aftermath of the incident which found that the company had failed to adequately guard the production line. This in turn had allowed workers access to the dangerous parts of machinery, including moving conveyors and drive shafts. The subsequent investigation showed that mill operatives were regularly accessing the machinery whilst it was still running, and confirmed that the Production Director was aware of this!

The conditions were of such a serious nature that the HSE issued both a Prohibition Notice and Improvement Notice to address the risks.

In Court

The company and Director were both charged and appeared at Liverpool Magistrates Court where they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The Company was fined £466,666 and ordered to pay costs of £7,475.90 along with a victim surcharge of £170.

The Director also pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £10,800, ordered to pay £43,241 in costs and another £170 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, the HSE  Inspector involved in the case said: “This incident, which was easily preventable, has had a devastating impact on the victim involved and those close to her. The company failed to prevent employees accessing dangerous moving parts of machinery. Had they ensured the machine was adequately guarded employees would not have been able to access moving parts and this tragic accident would have been avoided.”

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