Worker’s hand crushed in machine

Wellingborough Magistrates Court
Wellingborough Magistrates Court

A Wellingborough firm has been fined for safety breaches after a worker’s hand was crushed in an unguarded laminating machine.

Michael Taylor, 29, of Wellingborough, suffered serious injuries when his right hand and forearm were drawn into gluing rollers of the machine. Mr Taylor has had four operations and extensive physiotherapy but it is unlikely he will ever regain full movement in his hand.

The incident, on January 20, 2012, at The Paper Pallet Company Ltd was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company at Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard that The Paper Pallet Company Ltd, which uses recycled paper to make pallets, failed to ensure a honeycomb laminating machine was guarded and that staff were adequately trained and supervised in order to use it safely.

HSE found several failings. Mr Taylor was inadequately supervised and the machinery was unguarded at several points, not just where the incident occurred. The guarding over the gears and chains allowed access to dangerous moving parts, and some of the emergency stops did not work properly.

In addition the company had not carried out a risk assessment on the machine. This meant there was no safe system of work for cleaning the gluing rollers or for the operation, use and maintenance of the line.

Following the incident, the company introduced a light guard system, which shuts down the line if anyone breaks the beam to approach dangerous moving parts.

The Paper Pallet Company, Sinclair Drive, Wellingborough, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £10,877 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Elizabeth Hornsby said: “This is a very serious case of a company neglecting its duty to supervise and protect its employees from potentially dangerous machinery.

“Basic risk assessments weren’t carried out and Mr Taylor was not given suitable instruction in how to use the machine safely. Even his supervisor had not been given appropriate health and safety training to allow him to discharge his responsibilities adequately.

“The Paper Pallet Company Ltd has now introduced measures that will cut the power to the machinery if anyone approaches dangerous moving parts. It’s just a shame this did not happen before Mr Taylor suffered such severe injuries.”

Mr Taylor said: “The physical scars I have, both on my hand and from skin grafts, mean I’ll be reminded of this accident everyday for the rest of my life.

“Since the accident I have struggled to get back into work. I have a passion for cars, mechanics and engineering but the idea of working with machinery has given me serious concern. I have a constant fear that I will get hurt when at work and I have also considered a complete career change. I am still in a position where I am unsure how I feel about my career in the long term or what work I will feel safe to do.”