A paper company’s failure to guard a dangerous piece of moving machinery has cost a worker his life.
John Stoddart, 42, was pulled into the mechanism at the Higher Kings Mill in Cullompton in September 2011.
Investigating the fatal accident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found his employer, DS Smith Paper Ltd, failed to put any guarding in place and did not have a suitable risk assessment for the work.
Mr Stoddart, the company’s operations manager, was trying to identify a problem that was causing creases in the large rolls of industrial paper being produced at the site, Exeter Crown Court heard.
He had climbed onto a work platform to check if the creases were caused by problems on a large, moving felt belt, used to squeeze water out of the pulp mixture.
While no one saw the incident, it is believed Mr Stoddart was dragged onto the felt belt which then ripped and he fell into the machinery below. This would have caused serious crush injuries.
London-based DS Smith Paper Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined a total of £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £34,761.67.
No risk assessment
HSE Inspector Simon Jones says the company’s failure to guard the machinery tragically cost Mr Stoddart his life and has left his family without a husband, father and brother.
He adds a proper risk assessment would have highlighted the dangers involved with this type of work and established a series of safe practices for employees to follow instead of putting their lives at risk.
Potentially dangerous machinery should be guarded at all times. It should also be switched off when workers need access to repair faults. If not, accidents at work are likely to happen.
Mr Stoddart was rushed to Royal Devon and Exeter hospital but sadly succumbed to his injuries.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: August 13, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown