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January 5, 2011

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Machine death was “easily avoidable”, says inspector

A maintenance worker was killed when a machine he was working on was activated while he was still inside.

On 8 September 2006, Clive Hall was carrying out repairs inside a ‘cut and crease’ machine, which is used during the manufacturing of packaging, at Glossop Carton and Print Ltd’s factory in Padfield, Derbyshire.

The 50-year-old was working in the delivery end of the machine, when it was switched on by the operator, who was not aware that Mr Hall was inside. As the machine powered up, Mr Hall was struck in the head by the transfer bars, which carry cardboard through the machine, and was killed instantly.

HSE inspector Eddy Tarn visited the factory on the same day and issued an enforcement notice to leave the machine undisturbed until the conclusion of his investigation. He told SHP that the incident could have been “easily avoided” by implementing a few simple measures. He said: “Mr Hall tragically died because simple measures were not taken by Glossop Carton and Print to prevent the machine being switched on while he was inside.

“The maintenance of machinery often involves people working in dangerous situations not encountered during normal production work. People will continue to die in horrific circumstances if employers don’t plan, control and monitor maintenance work to machinery.

“Both machine operators and maintenance workers should be given adequate training. If a simple procedure for cutting the power supply to the machine had been followed then Mr Hall’s death could have been avoided.”

Glossop Carton and Print Ltd appeared at Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court on 21 May 2010 and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was subsequently sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 22 December following a Newton hearing. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £76,150 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said Mr Hall was employed to do building maintenance and was not permitted to carry out machine repairs. It also stated that Mr Hall had carried out the maintenance on the machine under his own accord and without informing others.

The machine was not returned to service following the incident and was later sold along with an identical machine used at the site. Following the incident padlocks were issued to each of the machine operators along with written instruction stating that machinery must be locked off during repair and maintenance activities.

Following the hearing Mr Hall’s ex-wife Pam said: “His children have been totally devastated by Clive’s death and continue to miss him terribly.

“The hardest thing was telling them their dad had been killed. I remember it vividly and they still find it difficult to accept he’s gone.”

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