Marling Leek in court after unguarded machine shattered worker’s forearm

leekMarling Leek, a manufacturer specialising in weaving and dying webbing for seatbelts and harnesses has been fined £35,000 and ordered to pay a further £5,257 in costs after employee Andrew Thomas shattered his left forearm in an unguarded machine.

Following the incident in August 2012, Mr Thomas needed five operations to pin and plate his injured arm and although he returned to work last May, he has been left with permanent scarring and reduced strength and feeling in his arm due to muscle loss and nerve damage.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (11 December) that Mr Thomas was operating a warping machine (pictured), which runs at between 150 and 220 rpm to take single ends of yarn from dozens of bobbins to warp them onto a single bobbin called a beam. This happens under tension through a series of rollers.

Mr Thomas was trying to retrieve a piece of loose yarn to stop it being wound on to the beam when his arm was dragged and crushed between two pre-tension rollers. He was trapped for approximately 30 minutes before the fire brigade dismantled the rollers to free him. He was then flown by air ambulance to hospital.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the warping machine was installed in 1988, but that at no time did the company recognise the need to guard it – exposing employees to significant risk for many years.

A risk assessment failed to identify the risk from the tension rollers, or that under specific legislation they were required by law to be guarded.

The risk assessment also failed to identify a risk of strangulation, as employees often crouched under up to 400 ends of strong yarn to get from one side of the machine to the other.   The court was told that Marling Leek had been over a similar incident in its dye house in August 2011. The company resolved the issues in the dye house but did not review other areas of the business where near identical failings existed.

Since the 2012 incident full, interlocked perimeter guards have been provided and the risk assessment has been updated.

Copyright Ken Hurst 2013


About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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