A Black Country steel processing company has been fined after an employee suffered a catalogue of injuries when he was pulled into a set of rotating rollers.
Dudley Magistrates’ Court today (12 Feb) heard the worker, who has asked not to be named, was cleaning the rollers which fed metal through a slitting line at Cooper and Jackson Limited. The rollers were still rotating and he was dragged in as far as his elbow between them.
He called to a colleague to reverse the rollers but when he pressed the reverse button, they moved forward instead, dragging the already injured man in further.
The 42-year-old worker, from Stourbridge, suffered severe burns to the right side of his chest caused by the friction of the rollers, and needed skin grafts. He also punctured a lung, fractured five ribs, his collarbone, shoulder blade and elbow and suffered muscle damage from his wrist to his elbow.
He was in hospital for over a month and was later readmitted following an infection from his chest injuries. He has been unable to work since and is undergoing counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, on 20 March 2014, found the company had not carried out a risk assessment for the cleaning of the machine so had failed to identify the dangers it posed. There was therefore no safe system of work in place for operatives to follow.
Cooper and Jackson Limited, of Pedmore Road Industrial Estate, Brierley Hill, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £12,000 with £1,061 costs.
After the hearing HSE inspector Paul Cooper said:
“This incident was entirely preventable. The risk of cleaning moving rollers should have been obvious but, because the company hadn’t addressed the issue and provided staff with an official way of doing things, they were left to their own devices.
“Being allowed to do things their own way resulted in terrible injuries to a young man who is now uncertain about whether he will return to work.”
Notes to Editors
- 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.