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Oldham tissue firm fined over severed fingers

Date:
25 October 2013

An Oldham-based tissue manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after an employee lost the tops of two fingers in machinery.

Rose Tissues Ltd, which processes and prints kitchen roll and toilet paper at its plant on Sefton Street in Hollinwood, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident on 17 May 2012.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard the 35-year-old employee from Oldham had been trying to stop paper sticking to a seven-metre-wide print roller by attempting to clean it with a cloth while the machine was operating.

As he did this, the cloth became trapped between two rotating rollers, dragging in his right hand with it. He spent four days in hospital undergoing surgery to his hand, but lost the tops of two fingers.

The HSE investigation found two of the guards on the machine, which should have prevented workers hands being trapped by the rollers, had been removed at least a year before the incident. In addition, electronic safety locks and cut-out switches had been deliberately bypassed to allow the machine to carry on running.

No formal checks had been carried out on the machine to make sure the guards were in place. Following the injury, the guards were found in a storage container in the factory and reinstated.

Rose Tissues Ltd was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said:

“The guards were fitted to the machine for a reason and there’s simply no excuse for two of them to be missing for over a year. Rose Tissues Ltd had deliberately over-ridden essential electrical locks and cut out switches to allow the machines to run without the guards.

“The risk of workers’ hands being dragged in between two rollers is well known in the printing industry, but the company failed to carry out checks on its machines to make sure guards were in place.

“As a result, an employee has suffered an injury to his hand that will affect him for the rest of his life.”

The latest figures show 20 people were killed while working in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2012/13. Information on improving safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk.
  2. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken…which are effective to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

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