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£200,000 fine after man dies in industrial blender

14 October 2015

A pellet manufacturing company based in Mansfield has been fined after an employee was killed when he was pulled into an industrial blender.

51 year old George Major, a father of one from Mansfield was clearing material from the blender at Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing, a pellet manufacturer based in Mansfield, when it unexpectedly started up.

The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the 21 January 2011 incident found the guard had been removed from the machine and it had not been isolated and locked off from the electricity supply.

Nottingham Crown Court heard the blender was part of a process line in which shredded recycled paper was mixed with bitumen and oil before being pressed into pellets, dried and bagged. The pellets were then used to reinforce asphalt mixes for use in road surfaces.

The court was also told the production line was installed on a number of floors of the Crown Farm Industrial Estate building, and was computer controlled with control screens on two floors.

However, there was no computer control screen on the same floor as the blender with the control screen in use at the time of the accident on the floor below. There was no line of sight from this control screen to the blender. It was also pointed out in court that when the line was running, the factory was noisy.

Investigators found on the day of the incident Mr Major had been helping to clear a blockage from machinery when he was dragged into the blender and killed.

The court heard there was no written system of work or instructions for isolation and no instruction to lock off isolators. There were no manuals or written instructions for operating plant. There was no proper training for staff. There were no risk assessments for any work on the plant.

Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing, of Strawberry Way, Crown Farm Industrial Estate, Forest Town Mansfield, admitted breaching guilty to Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £200,000 with costs of £100,000.

HSE inspector Samantha Farrar said: "Mr Major’s death was entirely avoidable and his life was needlessly lost. The failings by Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing caused a fatality in particularly distressing circumstances.

"The absence of an effective health and safety management system, including a lack of a safe system of work for equipment isolation and lock-off, risk assessment and proper training for staff, meant that all workers at the site were at risk.

"This tragic incident could have so easily been avoided if a few simple steps had been taken by the company.”