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Salford recycling firm sentenced over worker’s crushed leg

Date:
26 September 2014

A recycling firm has appeared in court after an employee almost lost his right leg when it became trapped in a machine at a Swinton factory. 

Nearly a year after the incident, doctors still do not know whether the 41-year-old from Middleton, who has asked not to be named, will ever regain the full use of his leg. 

Roydon Polythene (Exports) Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found workers at the plant at Junction Eco Park were routinely put at risk when they tried to remove blockages.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard today (26 September 2014) that the employee had been trying to clear a jam in a glass sorting machine on 16 October 2013. 

He was lifted in a mobile elevating work platform, similar in appearance to a cherry picker, before climbing out of the basket and onto a conveyor belt, more than four metres above the ground. As he tried to clear the blockage, his right leg was drawn into the machinery. 

His leg remained trapped for more than two hours while emergency services tried to cut him free. He sustained significant crush injuries, requiring multiple operations to try and save his leg. 

The court was told that it had become routine for workers to climb from the lifting basket onto the conveyor belt to clear blockages from an unguarded part of the machine. There were also no guard rails around the edge of the conveyor to prevent employees from falling to the ground below. 

Roydon Polythene (Exports) Ltd, of Rake Lane in Swinton, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,221 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005. 

The charges relate to failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, and failing to put measures in place to prevent workers falling from height. 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jackie Worrall said: “A worker has suffered severe injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life because his employer failed in its duty to ensure he stayed safe at work. 

“This wasn’t a one-off incident. Instead, workers were routinely expected to climb onto the conveyor belt to clear blockages from an unguarded part of the machine, putting their lives at risk. It was therefore almost inevitable that someone would be injured, either by becoming trapped in the machine or falling to the ground below. 

“Roydon Polythene should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks facing its employees, and taken action to put safety measures in place. If it had then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided.” 

More information on safety in the manufacturing industry 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. Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: “Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.” 

4. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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