A Luton waste and recycling company has been prosecuted after a worker suffered serious fractures when his arm was dragged into the rollers of a moving conveyor belt.
The 32-year-old employee was working at F&R Cawley Limited’s Covent Garden Close site on February 28, 2014 when he was asked to clear a blockage on a material recycling facility machine.
The control room operator turned off the power to the machine but Luton Crown Court heard the company’s lock-off and isolation procedure had not been followed on site for some time.
As the man attempted to remove a bit of waste from the rollers the power was turned back on by the control room operator and his arm was pulled into the rollers.
He sustained serious fractures and required three metal plates in his left arm which he is still unable to use.
He will need further operations involving transplanting bone from his hip – with no guarantee of success, it is unlikely he will be able to do manual work again.
A Health and Safety Executive investigation found the company’s procedures for lock-off/isolation and clearing blockages was inadequate.
The computer system in the control room had not been working properly for some time, walkie-talkie radios were faulty and blockage team members were inadequately supervised and trained.
In addition the investigation found the injured worker was not suitably trained to work as a mechanic.
The court was told a previous inspection by HSE in 2012 requested the company to review their blockage processes after it was observed they were not following safe procedures.
The potential for a breakdown in communication between the blockage team and the person in the control room was also discussed.
The company provided a new documented procedure but the court heard it fell into disuse within weeks.
The judge was satisfied that HSE’s 2012 intervention constituted a “warning that was ignored” and that if they had followed their own procedure, the chance of this accident happening was remote.
F & R Cawley Limited pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act, 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £20,763.
Following sentencing HSE Inspector Andrew McGill said: “This worker has been left unable to work following an incident that could easily have been avoided if the company had ensured their staff were properly trained and supervised.
“This man used to enjoy cycling with his two children but now can’t do this or any other active play with them”.