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Port Talbot company in court over worker’s head injuries

Date:
11 December 2013

A Port Talbot manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after an employee suffered serious injuries when her head became trapped between two machines.

Gaynor Gordon, 47, was attempting to retrieve aerosol cans that had fallen from the production line, beneath packaging machinery, at Envases (UK) Ltd, which produces aluminium containers, on 10 July 2012.

Neath Magistrates heard today (11 Dec) that as Mrs Gordon reached into an unguarded gap between the packaging machine and the strapping machine, a can collection basket lowered, trapping her head.

Her cries were quickly heard by colleagues, who released her from the machine. She was taken to hospital and treated for a fractured cheek and eye socket.

Mrs Gordon also suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and was unable to return to work until this October.  She also continues to experience damage to her vision in one eye.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which found there was no guard to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machinery. HSE served a Prohibition Notice halting further use of the equipment until adequate guarding was installed.

Envases (UK) Ltd put fixed mesh guarding in place later the same day to bring the machine back into production, demonstrating that it was straightforward to control the risk.

Envases (UK) Ltd, of Baglan Industrial Park, Port Talbot, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1988. The company was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,590.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Clare Owen, said:

“Envases failed to guard this machine and the gap was large enough to allow Mrs Gordon access to dangerous moving machine parts. Sadly for Mrs Gordon this incident was both foreseeable and preventable.

“Luckily, colleagues were quickly able to release Mrs Gordon, which minimised her injuries. However, it has had a massive impact on her and she has only recently returned to work, some 18 months after the incident.

“This prosecution should send a strong signal to companies to identify and act on the risks presented by production machinery and to review the measures they have in place regularly.”

Information and guidance on installing, using and maintaining work equipment and machinery is available on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/

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 of Work Equipment Regulations 1988 states that “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) 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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