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Fabric firm fined after worker dragged into machine

Date:
10 January 2014

A Kearsley-based fabric manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after an employee was injured when he was dragged into a machine.

The 25-year-old from Middleton, who has asked not to be named, had been cleaning the inside of a ten-metre-high tower when the machine started unexpectedly. His left leg was pulled in by the rollers he was standing on and he suffered broken bones in his left foot and ankle.

AMR Textiles Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident at the factory on the Europa Park Trading Estate in Stoneclough on 21 June 2012.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard the worker had climbed into the tower to remove loose strands of fibre so they did not mix with a new type of fibre that needed to be fed into the machine.

A colleague inserted an override key to test another part of the equipment but the rollers the worker was standing on also started rotating, pulling in his left leg up to the knee.

The HSE investigation found the access hatch to the tower had been fitted with an interlock to prevent the rollers moving when the hatch was open. However, the company had failed to carry out regular checks on the interlock and it was not working at the time of the incident.

In 2010, AMR Textiles had also given each supervisor an override key after making changes to the machine which allowed them to override the guards for maintenance or cleaning. The court was told this breached health and safety guidelines as it should not have been possible for workers to climb into a dangerous part of the machine while it could still operate.

Following the incident, the company took away the override keys from the supervisors and the fibre tower has also now been replaced with one preventing access inside.

AMR Textiles Ltd, of Springfield Road in Kearsley, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £10,103 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector David Norton said:

“The machine should have been perfectly safe to use when it was installed due to the interlock on the tower’s access hatch but AMR Textiles did not make any regular checks to make sure it was working correctly.

“The company also put employees at risk by giving each of their supervisors an override key. This meant the safety guards were regularly bypassed for routine tasks.

“The worker should never have been able to climb into the tower while the machine could still be operated, and the changes the company has made since show work to remove the loose fibre could have been carried out safely.

“It is vital manufacturers think carefully about the potential consequences of making changes to machines or safety procedures, as they risk putting employees’ lives in danger.”

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. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”
  3. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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