Rugby company fined £40,000 after man's hand crushed in pneumatic lifting table - The Rugby Observer

Rugby company fined £40,000 after man's hand crushed in pneumatic lifting table

Rugby Editorial 26th Oct, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

AN ACCIDENT which crushed a mechanic’s hand has landed a Rugby company with a £40,000 fine.

Fruit and vegetable packing company IFCO Systems UK, formerly of Cosford Lane, pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches after Rugby Borough Council prosecuted.

At a hearing at Nuneaton Justice Centre, magistrates heard the company accepted it failed in its duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees.

The court heard that in June 2015, an air leak was discovered in a pipe leading to a palletiser, which lifts pallets via a pneumatic lifting table.

A maintenance operative was working on it during a break when the table lifted, crushing his left hand.

He feared he would be trapped for the full half-hour break as his cries for help would not be heard – but a passing forklift driver heard and freed him.

The court heard the mechanic had thirty years’ experience and an electrical qualification from Poland.

However, although 40 out of the 56 agency staff on site didn’t speak English as their first language and IFCO had provided verbal training in Polish, all health and safety and machine documentation was in English.

There was no specific training on the palletiser, the pneumatic systems or the dangers of stored air pressure.

Officers found there was no risk assessment for replacing the pipes, and neither had anyone verified the pneumatic system was isolated before the operative started work.

The council issued a prohibition notice on the palletiser and also served an improvement notice. Both were complied with, as was an engineer’s recommendation to replace valves on the machine.

In mitigation, the court was told IFCO had no previous convictions and had cooperated with the investigation.

The court heard the operative’s hand was now severely restricted in its movements, for which he had received complex and painful physical therapy.

He had had to take an unskilled job, though he was limited by the restriction of movement in his hand, and is unlikely to be able to return to his profession as a mechanic.

Magistrates fined IFCO £40,000 with costs of £4,844 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, Rugby Borough Council public realm spokeswoman Coun Lisa Parker said: “Employers have a duty to take reasonable care of the health and safety of others at work.

“The injuries inflicted in this case could have been significantly worse, and at one point it looked like the operative’s hand would have to be amputated.

“Employers must carry out regular risk assessments and inspections on their machinery, and make sure their staff have access to training and documentation they can read and understand.

“It is not acceptable for staff to be seriously injured in the course of carrying out their work.”

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