Company fined £133,000 after St Helens worker received horrific hand injuries from hydraulic cutters

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company
The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the company
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A recycling and waste management company has been prosecuted after a St Helens worker received horrific hand injuries from defective hydraulic cutters.

Sefton Magistrates’ Court heard how on October 8, 2017, an employee of Viridor Waste Management Limited was working on a fridge dismantling line at the company’s St Helens site.

When the hydraulic cutters he was using stopped working properly he reported the defect, but the procedure to make the equipment safe was not then followed.

The cutters were left close to where he was working, and when he moved them out of his way, the defective cutters amputated the top of the index finger of his right hand and partially severed another finger.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although defects with the cutters were common, problems were not always reported and the procedure for lock-off and isolation was being inconsistently applied.

Viridor Waste Management Limited of Rydon Lane, Exeter, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The company was this week fined £133,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4204.85

Catherine Lyon, HSE inspector, said: “The life changing injuries caused by this accident could have been avoided if the procedure for the safe lock-off and isolation of equipment had been followed.

“Employers should ensure their safety procedures remain effective by monitoring their use and checking that they are being fully implemented.”

A spokesperson for Viridor said: "Viridor takes its health and safety responsibilities very seriously. Nothing is more important than the safety of our people and Viridor regrets the accident and injury suffered.

"Prior to this, Viridor had site-specific risk assessment and safe operating procedures with training for staff at the St Helens site.

"In addition, in 2008, the company retrofitted additional safety measures and introduced task-specific risk assessments and procedures along with further training on safe behaviours.

"Viridor has also implemented a comprehensive strategy for health and safety called ‘HomeSafe’. This is designed to raise standards, prevent harm and create a culture of safety targeting 4,600 people across the company.

"The district judge at Sefton Magistrates’ Court acknowledged the company’s genuine regret regarding the accident, and recognised HomeSafe as one of the many considerable steps taken by Viridor to raise health and safety standards."