Glenholme Nursery Ltd was prosecuted for safety failings, following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its probe revealed an unguarded nip point in a fibre sheeting machine had not been identified by the company as potentially dangerous.
Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard was told yesterday (March 10) a 39-year old employee was working alongside the large moving machine at the firm’s site near Nazeing. The machine was gathering fibre sheeting full of vegetable and plant waste before chopping it and blowing through a chute into a skip.
Severed at the lower forearm
The worker – who asked to remain anonymous – was tensing the sheet and trying to feed it into the roller when his glove became tangled in the edge of the sheet. His left arm was dragged into the machine and severed at the lower forearm when it became jammed between two parts.
Although surgeons managed to reattach the limb at Broomfield hospital, his arm will remain severely damaged for life. Unable to return to work, the man has failed to regain movement, grip or sensation below the amputation scar and suffers constant pain at the wound site.
The worker, who lived in a cabin on the site, had been employed by the firm for just four months before the accident on April 30 last year.
Risked dangerous entanglement
Magistrates heard the nursery had failed to put safe systems of work in place. Consequently, it had become standard practice for workers to tension moving sheets by hand, which brought them dangerously close to the machine and risked serious entanglement.
“The failure to look thoroughly at the potential risks of this machine in operation and the absence of safe working procedures, resulted in a worker sustaining major, life-changing injuries under horrific circumstances.”
HSE inspector Paul Grover
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Grover said: “The failure to look thoroughly at the potential risks of this machine in operation and the absence of safe working procedures, resulted in a worker sustaining major, life-changing injuries under horrific circumstances.”
Employers had a duty to ensure that they do everything reasonably practicable to ensure their employees’ safety. “In this case, the failures by Glenholme Nursery are likely to have a long-term impact on this man’s future working life and financial security.”
The HSE will continue to actively enforce legal provisions and to bring offenders to account, where breaches of law are identified, he added.
Glenholme Nursery Ltd, of Nursery Road, Nazeing, Essex, was fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £862.25 in costs as well as a £120 victim surcharge after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.