Wednesday, 12 August 2015

DS Smith fined £400,000 after death of worker

DS Smith Paper Ltd, was fined £434,761 (inc. costs) following the death of a manager who became trapped in unguarded machinery at a Devon paper mill.
The circumstances were:
  • DS Smith Paper failed to act on 73 urgent recommendations in a specialist safety report compiled 11 months before the accident.
  • Of these 73, there were 33 that should have been addressed within 24 hours. Many of the recommendations called for improved guards to prevent access to moving machinery.
  • Some of the concerns raised in the safety report were categorised as very high risk – needing attention within a day – and high risk – needing fixing within a week.
  • The accident occurred on  machine where paper pulp passed along a felt conveyor where water is squeezed out of the pulp mixture.
  • On 24 September 2011, creases were occurring in the paper.
  • It was common practice to climb on a work platform above the conveyor.
  • No risk assessment had been carried out for work which needed to be carried out to find the cause of creases and for working on the gantry.
  • There was no guarding on the belt.
  • John Stoddart, who was the company’s operations manager, was trying to identify a problem. 
  • He climbed onto the work platform to check if the creases were caused by problems on the moving felt belt.
  • Although no-one saw what exactly happened to Mr Stoddart, he apparently was smoothing out the felt when his hand became trapped in an in-running nip. 
  • There was no guard on the machinery and he was flipped into the machine, causing fatal crush injuries.
  • Suitable guarding was installed shortly after the accident.

The HSE Inspector said:
“DS Smith’s failure to guard a dangerous piece of moving machinery tragically cost Mr Stoddart his life and has left his family without a husband, father and brother. Potentially dangerous machinery should always be guarded and turned-off when workers need access to repair faults. A proper risk assessment would have highlighted these dangers and established safe practices for staff instead of putting their lives at risk.”

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