Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Packaging firm fined £73,000 for "appalling" safety standards

Packaging firm Europlast (Blackburn) Ltd., was fined £73,100 (inc.costs) after an employee had part of a finger amputated
The HSE described the safety standards as "appalling".
The circumstances were:
  • Europlast have a history of poor safety performance.
  • The HSE first made Europlast aware of the need to guard dangerous machine parts during a visit to the site in September 2009
  • In July 2011 an external health and safety consultant highlighted ‘intolerable risks’ from missing guards on machines at the factory.
  • The consultant stressed the importance of implementing his findings when he returned to the site later in the year, after it became clear that no action had been taken.
  • 2 workers suffered injuries when their hands became trapped in machinery in September 2011 and April 2012.
  • Numerous safety guards were missing or disabled on machines.
  • Workers had not been given suitable training.
  • On 6 June 2012 an employee was working on a machine used to produce bubble wrap.
  • He was trying to remove small pieces of plastic which had become stuck when his hand was pulled in between two rollers.
  • It remained trapped for several minutes before another employee eventually found the emergency stop button.
  • He suffered burns and crush injuries to his hand, required skin grafts and had to have the top half of his middle finger amputated. 

The HSE Inspector said:
“The injured worker has only ever carried out manual work but his prospects of employment are now severely affected, as he can no longer use to his hand to hold, grab or lift anything properly. When we visited the factory following the incident, we found an appalling state of health and safety with no safe system of work in place for any of the machines. What’s even more shocking is that the company had failed to take any action to improve safety despite receiving numerous warnings and at least two other workers also suffering injuries. There appears to have been a complete absence of any attempt to organise or control health and safety at the factory, with the company apparently showing a total lack of care about the safety of its employees.”

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