A corrugated cardboard manufacturer has been fined £4,000 after unguarded machinery crushed an employee’s hand at a factory in Ellesmere Port.

An employee’s hand was dragged into unguarded machinery, resulting in a crushed hand and broken arm.

The 29-year-old employee from Ellesmere Port, who wishes to remain anonymous, was cleaning around a baling machine used to compress waste cardboard on 18 April 2012 when his right hand got caught.

His arm was then dragged into the machinery at the company’s plant on North Road, causing crushing injuries to his hand and breaking his arm.

Manufacturer Prowell Ltd. was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it was found the firm failed to carry out a risk assessment on the use of the baler, even though it was second hand and there was an unguarded gap on the machine.

The HSE investigation revealed that the company had installed the baler at the factory early in 2009 but had relocated the control panel and hydraulic power pack to the outside of an enclosure around the machine, to reduce the risk of fire.

However, this created an unguarded gap on the machine itself.

Workers were put at risk on a daily basis as they were asked to clear out waste cardboard and dust inside the enclosure every day, while the machine was still running.

HSE fines and comments

Prowell Ltd was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,053 after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1998 on 24 October 2013.

Speaking after the hearing at Chester Magistrates’ Court, HSE Inspector Lisa Bailey said:

“Prowell allowed the baler to operate for over three years without being properly guarded, which ultimately led to a worker being badly injured.

It should have carefully considered the consequences of removing the control panel and power pack when the machine was first installed at the factory, and assessed the risks to workers.”

She added that the firm has since taken steps to prevent further injuries.

The company fitted a temporary mesh guard following the incident and has since installed a permanent fixed and interlocked guard,” she said.

“If these measures had been in place at the time of the incident then the employee’s injuries could have been avoided.”

If you have suffered an injury at work and blame or negligence can be attributed elsewhere, we can pursue an accident at work claim on your behalf.