Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 22, 2012

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Factory put workers at risk over a prolonged period

A worker suffered severe burns when both his arms were pulled into the rollers of an unguarded machine at a factory in Staffordshire.

Stewart Wood, 60, was working as a machine operator at Marling Leek Ltd’s facility in Leek, where the company manufactures webbing for seatbelts and harnesses. On 2 August last year, Mr Wood was working a nightshift when the webbing became wrapped around the machine’s rollers.

He climbed on to the machine without isolating it and tried to unravel the webbing. His left arm was drawn into the unprotected rollers, and when he attempted to free himself by pushing the top roller upwards his other arm was drawn into the machine as well.

A colleague heard Mr Wood scream but was unable to help him, as he didn’t know how to isolate the machine. He ran to get another employee and together they managed to free Mr Wood, who was then taken to hospital for treatment for severe burns and skin damage.

He remained in hospital for two weeks and required skin grafts on both arms. He has suffered a permanent loss of feeling in the affected areas and was unable to return to work for a number of weeks owing to his injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that Marling Leek had failed to implement a safe system of work for the job, and this failure had put employees at risk for several years. Mr Wood had worked for the company for more than 12 years and had never received any information, training, or written instructions on how to release the webbing safely when it wrapped around the rollers.

The company was served two Improvement Notices by the HSE, which required it to carry out a risk assessment for dealing with wrap-arounds and working at height, and to make electric cables in the powder-dye room waterproof, as it was a wet environment.

HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said: “The consideration given to the risks of operating this machine was not suitable or sufficient, and supervision and monitoring was also inadequate. The picture that emerged of Marling Leek is one that failed to develop an effective safety management system. In doing so, they exposed their employees over a prolonged period to significant risk every day they came to work, ending in a tragic incident that could and should have been prevented.”

Marling Leek Ltd appeared at Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court on 20 June and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £5000 and ordered to pay £5827 in costs.

The Safety Conversation Podcast: Listen now!

The Safety Conversation with SHP (previously the Safety and Health Podcast) aims to bring you the latest news, insights and legislation updates in the form of interviews, discussions and panel debates from leading figures within the profession.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today!

Related Topics

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

This must be part of the current governments despicable plan to “get rid of this safety culture once and for all” If you hurt an employee, plead guilty immediately, pay just under £11 grand & you can carry on as normal?
Come on HSE and CPS! With all the similar offences this year alone, don’t you think it’s about time you started to increase the fines to make them into a real deterrent.??? If the company goes bust, to pursue the directors into personal bankruptcy would be a proper deterrent!

11 years ago

I couldn’t agree more Bob!
As you say; it’s not as if risk assessments are something new!

What could be more simple than showing someone how to turn a machine off before leaving them to work on it?

The low fine is a criminal act in itself!! Isn’t it about time some of these out of touch judges were put out to pasture!

11 years ago

Amazing, they manufacture safety equipment, and carry on like machine guarding is a new concept?

And in addition to unguarded moving components which could entrap, they ommit to advise thier employees, on how to switch off the machine in event of any such entrapment?

Given the employee`s 12 yrs at the firm can we presume that this operation had been a longterm undertaking? and if so why is the penalty so low, given that the requirement for RA has been in place for donkeys years?

11 years ago

In total agreement with you Alex.

No wonder the HSE are circumspect about prosecutions with this degree of supposed justice?

And in Scotland they require blood on the carpet to be even remotely interested. Even a breach of notice is not worthy on occasion. how that enforces compliance is beyound me? And they seldom recover the costs in full.

In scotland no costs are awarded, hence the reluctance to prosecute I suppose.

As a famous man once said “it`s a funny old game”