Marling 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