St Helens company and boss fined after worker sustains horrendous injuries in freak industrial accident

The Health and Safety Executive brought the court case
The Health and Safety Executive brought the court case

A St Helens company and one of its directors have been heavily fined after a worker suffered horrific injuries when she was dragged into a rotating drive shaft.

The agency worker lost her full scalp, ears and one of her thumbs when her hair became caught in machinery at Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturning Limited's Norman Road site, Liverpool Magistrates' Court heard.

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She suffered severe physical and mental trauma and has undergone numerous reconstructive operations.

She has also been unable to return to work since the incident on June 30, 2016.

The horror incident led to the wood product manufacturing company being forced to pay out almost half a million pounds, while one of the bosses at the firm now has to shell out more than £50,000.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to adequately guard the production line, allowing access to dangerous parts of machinery, including conveyors and drive shafts, by employees and agency workers, during both operation and cleaning.

A return visit was made in April 2018 where it was discovered that the company had changed the layout of the production line, leaving accessible dangerous parts, including an identical shaft to the one which the victim was injured on.

A Prohibition Notice and an Improvement Notice were served to address the risks.

The subsequent investigation showed that mill operatives were regularly accessing the strapping section while the machinery was still running, and the production director was aware of this.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £466,666 and ordered to pay costs of £7,475.90 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Paul Carney of Springburn Gardens in Woolston, Warrington, also pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety laws and was fined £10,800, ordered to pay £43,241 in costs and £170 victim surcharge.

After the hearing HSE principal inspector Helen Jones said: “This incident, which was easily preventable, has had a devastating impact on the victim involved and those close to her.

"The company failed to prevent employees accessing dangerous moving parts of machinery. Had they ensured the machine was adequately guarded employees would not have been able to access moving parts and this tragic accident would have been avoided.”