Tip of the iceberg injury reveals plethora of safety shortcomings!

Plus Safety Comment:

It amazes me that some companies still prefer to gamble the well being of their employees when clearly they know what needs to be done — the result three people suffer similar injuries and finally it cost this company £70k plus for something that could easily have cost less than a couple of grand. I hope the company has learned its lesson. My sympathy goes out to the three guys who have paid a substantially higher price that will be with them for the rest of their lives. What a reminder of bad practice.

A Blackburn packaging firm has appeared in court after an investigation into a worker’s injury revealed safety standards described as ‘appalling’.

Europlast (Blackburn) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee had part of a finger amputated after his left hand became trapped in unguarded machinery in June 2012.

HSE discovered that two other workers had been injured in similar machinery incidents less than nine months earlier, numerous safety guards were missing or disabled on machines, and workers had not been given suitable training.

Preston Crown Court heard that the 26-year-old employee from Blackburn, who has asked not to be named, had been working on a machine used to produce bubble wrap when the incident happened at the plant at Shadsworth Business Park on 6 June 2012.

The worker was trying to remove small pieces of plastic which had become stuck when his hand was pulled in between two rollers. It remained trapped for several minutes before another employee eventually found the emergency stop button.

He suffered burns and crush injuries to his hand, required skin grafts and had to have the top half of his middle finger amputated. The court was told two other workers had also suffered injuries when their hands became trapped in machinery in April 2012 and September 2011.

HSE first made Europlast aware of the need to guard dangerous machine parts during a visit to the site in September 2009. This warning was repeated in July 2011 when an external health and safety consultant highlighted ‘intolerable risks’ from missing guards on machines at the factory.

The consultant stressed the importance of implementing his findings when he returned to the site later in the year, after it became clear that no action had been taken.

Europlast (Blackburn) Ltd, of Duttons Way in Blackburn, was fined £50,010 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £23,102 after admitting breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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