Plastics firm fined £160,000 after worker’s death

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Death

The HSE brought charges against the firm after a worker was crushed by a machine used to make plastic lids
The HSE brought charges against the firm after a worker was crushed by a machine used to make plastic lids
A plastics firm has been fined £160,000 after a worker died when he was crushed between the plates on a machine used to make plastic lids.

The worker, Shaun O' Dwyer died on May 30 2008 at Curver UK’s factory on Cardew Industrial Estate, south west Cornwall.

The firm formerly known as Contico Europe – Which makes plastic lids used for food products among other applications – was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to provide adequate safety measures.

Truro Crown Court heard that O'Dwyer needed to access the machine’s plastic mouldings plates. The normal procedure was to access the plates via a guard which, when opened, prevented the machine from operating.

But before the accident happened, one of the conveyors on the machine had been removed, allowing O'Dwyer to access the machine through an unguarded gap. While inside the press, the machine started to operate and the plates closed crushing O'Dwyer at a pressure of over 1,000t.

Tragic incident

HSE Inspector, Trevor Hay, said: "This tragic incident could have been avoided if the company had observed standard industry guidance from the British Plastics Federation and the British Standards Institution.

"Conveyors should be bolted into position, or fitted with an electrical cut-off switch which removes power to the machine when the conveyor is taken away.”

Effective guarding should prevent workers gaining access to dangerous machinery, or an automatic system should cut off the power supply if someone is working inside, added Hay.

"Users of such machinery should ensure effective safeguards are in place to avoid further deaths or injuries to their workers,"​ he said.

Pleaded guilty

Curver UK, of York Gate, London, pleaded guilty to committing a breach of Regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations under Section 33(1) (c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

It was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £32,000 costs.

A spokesman for the firm said: "Health and safety of our employees is and always has been our number one priority.

“This was a terrible accident which regrettably resulted in the death of a valued employee.

“We accept the decision of the court and the judge clearly accepted that we conducted ourselves entirely properly, post-accident and going forward in both health and safety measures, and with our interaction with the HSE.”

Related topics Food Safety

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