A Stockport worker’s left hand was badly mangled in the hook on a crane because lifting chains were unavailable – despite being manufactured in the same factory, a court has heard.
David Taylor, 54, from Swinton, lost parts of all his fingers in the incident at Renold Power Transmission Ltd on the Bredbury Park Industrial Estate in Stockport on 14 September 2011.
The company, which manufactures chains for conveyor belts, escalators and forklift trucks, was fined £80,000 today (8 January 2014) after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found it did not have a safe system for moving heavy tooling equipment.
Manchester Crown Court was told that Mr Taylor had been operating an overhead crane in the tool preparation area to lift equipment weighing nearly 300kg, using straps that had already been placed around it.
As he moved the crane with a poorly-labelled handheld control, the equipment slipped out of the straps and started to fall towards him. He raised his left hand to protect himself but it became caught in one of the straps and was pulled into the crane’s hook.
Mr Taylor lost half his thumb, the tip of his index finger, two thirds of his middle and ring fingers, and all of the little finger on his left hand.
The HSE investigation established that the company had failed to produce a written risk assessment for the work, and there was not a safe system of work in place. Mr Taylor had also never received any formal training to use the crane, despite working for the firm for nearly three months.
Renold has since changed its working practices to use eye bolts and chains to lift heavy equipment. The court heard that no chains were available on the day of the incident – despite the fact that they are manufactured by the company.
Speaking after the hearing, David Taylor said:
“It’s been tough dealing with what happened to me. My injuries prevented me from doing simple things like getting dressed or driving. I had to go to the hospital four or five times a week after the incident, and eventually was diagnosed with post-traumatic-stress disorder as well.
“I couldn’t work so money was a struggle for us and we had to get used to a low standard of living for a while, until my compensation came through. I don’t know what I’d have done if I hadn’t had a strong family around me – they really helped pull me through.
“I’ve now had my big toe amputated and attached to my hand in place of my thumb, which has really helped and means I can pick things up again.
“I just hope manufacturers improve their health and safety systems so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else. They need to listen to their employees’ concerns and make sure they provide the correct equipment for the job.”
Renold Power Transmission Ltd, of Styal Road in Wythenshawe, was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,696 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The investigating inspector at HSE, Ian Betley, added:
“One of Renold’s employees has suffered severe injuries to his left hand that will affect him for the rest of his life due to the company’s poor safety system for using the crane.
“It’s shocking that the chains produced by the company weren’t even available on the day of the incident for use by its own employees. Instead, David had to use an unchoked sling to lift a heavy tool, which led to him being badly injured.
“If the tool had been properly secured before being lifted then his injuries could have been avoided.”
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:
- 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
- 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.”
- HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.