Recycling company fined after worker loses two fingers

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A plastics recycling company has been fined £13,000 after a worker lost two fingers while operating a baler.

The man, who had been employed by the firm for only eight weeks, attempted to clear a blockage in the baler’s hopper while it was switched on.

After removing the guard he leaned in and moved the blocked plastic, Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court was told. The ram then activated, crushing his hand. He has been unable to work since the incident last October.

An HSE investigation found the company had installed a removable guard, as blockages in the machine occurred frequently. Employees were not informed of the dangers of accessing the hopper while the power was on and it was common practice to clear the machine by hand.

The investigation also found there was no suitable risk assessment in place which would have identified the necessary control measures, such as a fixed guard and a safe lock off.

Wrapp Recycling Ltd of Bradford Street, Bolton pleaded guilty to Health and Safety breaches and was fined £13,000 and with costs of £5,951.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Catherine Lyon said: “This incident could have been avoided by carrying out correct control measures and implementing a safe system of work.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

EP Risk Consultancy can create a bespoke range of risk assessments for businesses.  We also offer risk assessment templates for specific tasks that your employees would need to complete and we offer on-site training.