Worksop company MBA Polymers have been fined more than £10,000 after an accident at their Sandy Lane plant left an employee with a badly broken arm.
Michael Carrick had his arm crushed by the machine he was working on after his clothing got entangled in the rotating central part of the machinery.
At Worksop Magistrates’ Court, MBA pleaded guilty to one breach of general duty to an employee and one contravention of health safety regulations.
The incident occurred on 2nd May, 2012 and involved the rotating elutriator auger machine which is used to separate copper wire from pieces of plastic that were being recycled at the plant.
Representing the Health and Safety Executive, Mr David Butter said: “This incident occurred at the upper level of the machine which is essentially a centrifugal system with what is in effect a fat spring spinning around.”
“The plant is bespoke and evolving all the time as it gets used to new technology and from time to time, this machine could get blocked and there were people responsible for dealing with this.”
“The rotating part was encased in a metal tube so to inspect it, you could not just look through, you had to use a porthole at the top of the machine and this involved employees climbing up the framework of the machine to look into the machine through this porthole and, if necessary, use an improvised metal tool to clear blockages.”
“On this occasion, Mr Carrick’s clothing became entangled in the machine while he was inspecting a blockage and his arm was severely broken.”
“During the investigation which followed, it became clear that this portholes should have been more effectively guarded and this was something employees had raised in the past.”
“At the time of the accident, there was also no Safe System of Work in place for that machine, which details how to go about a task, so employees effectively had to make up a system to get a job done.”
Mr Butter acknowledged that since the accident, several changes have been made, such as mesh covers on the portholes, a platform put in place alongside the machine and a Safe System of Work was now in place.
Representing MBA, Hazel Padmore said: “Mr Carrick’s job was to work in that area of the plant and he was very experienced in working with that machine.
“The company say there were safety procedures in place including an isolation button which could be used to stop and padlock the machine while it was being cleaned or if something became entangled in it.”
“Mr Carrick had used this before but on this day, he didn’t.”
“He was also trained in using the machine, he was not working on it without any knowledge of how the machine worked.”
“In terms of access, the company had also provided ladders, so there was no need for anyone to climb up the machine’s framework and Mr Carrick acknowledges this.”
“MPA have a very strong attitude towards safety and immediate steps were taken in the aftermaths of the accident to make the machine and the process of using is even safer.”
“In terms of the porthole, a new guard was put in place but unfortunately it was removed again without the full knowledge of everyone.”
The company was fined £3,500 for each of the two health and safety breaches it pleaded guilty to plus £3,851.75 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, making the final total £10,866.75.
After the hearing, MBA chief executive Nigel Hunton said: “We take safety very seriously as a company and we want to work with Michael to help get him back to work.”
“We’ve put safety as our number one priority since this happened and we’ve made a lot of changes to make sure something like this is not repeated.”