Bradford-based Emballator UK was fined £12,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for health and safety breaches.
Bradford Magistrates were told last week (1 May) that 51-year-old David Wain, from Holmewood, suffered serious injuries when a 1.5 tonne pallet of tin plates fell onto his right lower leg and foot when he was employed by Emballator UK at their factory in Tyersal, Bradford. The HSE said that his leg may have to be amputated.
The incident, on 6 February 2012, was investigated by the HSE, which prosecuted the company after identifying a number of safety failings.
Bradford Magistrates’ Court heard that Wain, a coating assistant at the plant, which manufactures tin cans, had been told to use an older machine to turn the bulk tin plate as a fault had developed on the usual, more modern, pallet turner.
According to the HSE, he had no experience of using the older machine and a colleague gave him a demonstration of how to use it and how to load the pallets for turning.
Wain used a forklift truck to pick up a pallet of plates, loaded the machine the way he had been told – wedging the load using empty pallets – and switched it on. Moments later, after the machine turned 180 degrees, he saw the plates and pallets moving. He tried to get out of the way but the full load of metal plates spilled out of the machine in a weighty waterfall, trapping his foot against the floor.
Part of Wain’s big toe was severed and the sole of his foot was split. Surgeons managed to reattach the next two toes and he needed plates put into his ankle and screws into his lower leg. He was in hospital for 11 days.
Wain has been housebound since the incident and unable to walk without crutches. He was informed earlier this year by the hospital that his foot and lower leg may need to be amputated.
HSE found Emballator UK had failed to provide both safe equipment and a safe system of work. There was no clamping mechanism to retain the pallet of metal plates within the rotating machine, and no guarding to keep operators from the machine during turning.
According to the HSE, the firm had not identified the risks involved with using the older machine, and in particular the risk of the plates falling out. Wain was not supervised whilst he used the machine for the first time. No checks were made that he understood the risks and the precautions to take.
Emballator UK , of City Link Industrial Park, Phoenix way, Tyersal, Bradford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,769 in full costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Andrea Jones said: “Everyone has the right to come home from work safe and well. But David Wain suffered life-changing injuries in an incident that was preventable.
“Emballator UK failed in their duties to provide a suitable machine for turning pallets and a safe method of operation that Mr Wain could use. Manually securing the load in an open box by means of wedges or empty pallets is not a sufficiently reliable method of securing the load.”
No one from Emballator UK was available for comment when contacted by Packaging News.