A polythene manufacturer based in Cheshire has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after an employee suffered life changing injuries when he became trapped in machinery.
The incident happened on 21 January 2014, during the nightshift at British Polythene Ltd in Warrington Road, Widnes, Halton in Cheshire, when an unnamed employee was operating multi-winders, which convert “logs” of stretch film polythene into smaller, hand-sized reels.
The logs are held in position for unwinding by two pneumatic “arms” – known as pivot or lift arms.
However, during a short delay before the arms were activated, the employee walked down the machine checking there was no damage to the film.
He noticed a piece of debris which could cause damage to the roll, but was trapped by the pivot arm as he tried to remove the debris.
The employee’s upper body was trapped for more than a minute before colleagues freed him and he sustained injuries to his kidney, spleen and lungs.
He was taken to hospital, where he spent three days in intensive care and has lost function in one kidney.
The company had previously identified a risk at the site BPI Widnes Films relating to pivot arms on similar winding machinery – and had implemented the correct control measures.
HSE said that, had British Polythene Ltd taken the same approach with machine the employee was operating – and had the company taken appropriate precautions and measures to ensure safety when using the equipment – the employee’s life-changing injuries could have been prevented.
On Wednesday, 9 September 2015 at Chester Crown Court, British Polythene Ltd of One London Wall in the City of 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 ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,033.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Adam McMahon said:
“If a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been completed, the necessary control measures could have been implemented to prevent the accident from occurring.”
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