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Firm sentenced after worker loses hand in machine

20 January 2016

A Manchester waste plastic recycling firm has been fined after an employee’s hand was severed when dragged into a granulator machine.

CP Plastics was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident at Manchester New Rd, Middleton, Manchester on the 4 March 2015.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard the employee, who has been deaf since birth, has been severely affected by the injury. The loss of his right hand in the incident means that he is unable to drive or work and is finding it difficult to use sign language to communicate.

The 50 year old employee had been feeding a granulator machine with waste plastic. During the process the machine slowed down so he went to look through an inspection hatch to find the cause. He was reaching inside the machine in order to pull through the plastic which was slowing the machine, when the plastic wrapped around his right hand and dragged it into the granulator blades.

The HSE investigation found there was no safe system of work in place. The inspection hatch should not have been on the machine and employees should not have had access to the dangerous cutting blade.

The investigation also found that the company had failed to provide Employer’s Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) at the time of the incident.

CP Plastics pleaded guilty to two offences, one breach of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and one breach under Section 1 of the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.

In an unusual ruling the company was fined £1500, but the judge also ordered CP Plastics to pay £17,000 in compensation to the injured employee, and ordered to pay £1500 towards prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Emily Osborne said “This incident could easily been prevented if the company had suitable measures in place to ensure workers could not access the rotating cutters in the granulating machine. This would include ensuring guards were fitted correctly on the machine.

“The firm’s failures led to a worker suffering a severe and life changing injury. Every employer needs to ensure that they have Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance in place to ensure employees can claim compensation if they are injured or become ill as a result of their work. It is completely unacceptable to not have basic insurance in place, and, where such breaches are identified they will be pursued by HSE.”