British Polythene Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an employee was badly injured when he became trapped in a machine at BPI Widnes Films, Warrington Road on January 21 2014.
The worker’s upper body was trapped for more than a minute before being freed by colleagues, Chester Crown Court heard was told.
The man, who asked to remain anonymous, received injuries to his kidney, spleen and lungs. He spent three days in intensive care and has lost the function of one kidney.
The accident happened during a night shift, when the employee was operating multi-winder machines that converted logs of stretch film polythene into smaller hand sized reels. The logs were held in position for unwinding by two pneumatic arms, known as pivot or lift arms.
Trapped by the pivot arm
Before the arms were activated, the worker walked down the machine checking that the film was free from damage. After noticing debris, which could have damaged the roll, he tried to remove it but was trapped by the pivot arm.
An HSE investigation revealed the firm had previously identified a risk relating to pivot arms on similar winding machinery and had implemented the correct control measures. If the same approach had been applied to the machine in question and had the firm taken appropriate precautions to ensure safety when using the equipment, the accident could have been prevented, the court was told.
‘Prevent the accident’
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Adam McMahon said: “If a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been completed, the necessary control measures could have been implemented to prevent the accident from occurring.”
British Polythene Ltd of One, London Wall, London pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 3 (1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
The company was fined £20,000 for each breach and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,033.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the firm told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “British Polythene Limited regrets the accident to one of its employees at its Widnes site on January 21 2014 and has fully co-operated with the investigations conducted by the Health and Safety Executive since the incident.
“The company is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all of its employees and others affected by its business.”
More information about maintaining machinery safely can be found here.