A businessman and a scrap metal firm have both been fined for serious safety failings as a worker lost his legs after they became trapped in the doors of a baling machine.
Lewes Crown Court was told on Tuesday how the 42-year-old man, now living in Pontypool in Wales, was correcting a problem inside the five-metre long, 16-tonne baler.
He was working for H Ripley & Co in Westfield, East Sussex, on 24 May 2011 when the horrific work accident occurred.
The court was told how the machine’s doors started to close and the man could not get a remote control to work in order to stop them.
He tried to get away but the doors hit his legs, severing one and badly crushing the other. He had to have his remaining leg amputated in hospital.
Remote control was flawed
The baler was used to compress scrap metal into cubes and the process took a minute and 15 seconds with a force of 180 tonnes, the court heard,
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the firm because of its inadequate isolation procedures and John Platt, of Thakeham, who built the flawed remote control.
Lack of control measures
The HSE told the court that sufficient control measures were not in place and workers were able to get close to the dangerous parts of the machine.
The court heard the company had bought it second-hand three years earlier and it needed a new remote control system.
Mr Platt provided this but its flaws meant it was unable to stop the doors once they had already started to close. The HSE added that the remote control was not tough enough to be used in a scrap metal facility.
H Ripley & Co, from North Street, Hailsham, West Sussex and John Platt, trading as John Platt Services, Bramble Lane, Thakeham, West Sussex, both admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The firm pleaded guilty to Section 2(1) and was ordered to pay a £60,000 fine and £34,633 in costs, while Mr Platt admitted Section 6(1) of the same act before being fined £10,000 and told to pay £5,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.
Date Published: June 26, 2014
Author: David Brown