A Rotherham recycling firm has been sentenced over serious safety dangers on a conveyor after a 25-year-old worker had his arm broken in three places when it was drawn into unguarded machinery. HSE said that the incident had a profound psychological impact on the worker at a crucial time, as his daughter was born just three weeks later.
Ryan Jackson, from Rawmarsh, also suffered a cracked shoulder blade and had a radial nerve shredded to the bone in the incident at the metal recycling company C F Booth Ltd in Armer Street on 4 December 2013.
An investigation by HSE identified:
- a guard by the tail drum where Mr Jackson was operating had been removed and there was no emergency stop button. There was an emergency stop cord down one side of the conveyor but nothing immediately to hand by the tail drum;
- guarding on the whole conveyor was insufficient;
- the company had no management system to check that guards were in place and that emergency stops and/or pull cords were working; and
- the company had received written advice from HSE in May 2013 relating to the guarding of end drums on other conveyors on site.
Rotherham Magistrates heard on 1 June that Mr Jackson, who was relatively inexperienced, had been on his own at the time and was attempting to remove a blockage from the conveyor. He had believed the machine would need an electrician to restart it once it had cut out due to the blockage.
However, once he had cleared the debris, the machine started running and his arm was drawn in and badly injured.
The court heard that Mr Jackson had needed a nerve removed from his calf to try to repair the arm damage. As well as being unable to cradle his new-born child, the surgery had meant a loss of feeling in his leg. He is still on medication and has not been able to return to work since.
C F Booth Ltd, of Armer Street, Rotherham, was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,595 after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Carol Downes said: “This was a horrifying incident that has left Mr Jackson with perhaps a permanent physical impairment. It also had a profound psychological impact on him at a crucial time for a young family.
“Incidents of this kind occur all too frequently in the recycling sector and the onus is on companies, like CF Booth Ltd, to acknowledge the dangers posed by unguarded machinery in general, and tail end drums of conveyors in particular, and to take action. The company had been warned before and there can be no excuse for its subsequent failings.
“Employers have a duty to ensure that machinery is properly guarded and should take steps to ensure that guards remain in place. HSE will continue to prosecute when worker safety is compromised.”