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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
November 20, 2008

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Man crushed to death inside baling machine

A Doncaster peat works has been fined after a worker was crushed to death inside a baling machine.

Sheffield Crown Court was told that a baler operator died during an unwitnessed incident, which took place on 2 March 2006. It is believed that the man entered the baling machine and was crushed to death after accidentally activating a sensor, which started the machine.

The worker entered the machine through a baler access gate that was not properly secured. The gate was originally held in place by an electrical inter-lock, but this had been disconnected when a control panel was moved. At the time of the accident the gate was secured with a cable tie-wrap, which the workman was able to remove in order to gain access to the machine.

Once inside the baler, the man triggered a sensor, activating the machine, and he became trapped between a hydraulic baler arm and a bag table, receiving fatal crush injuries.

The owner of the peat works, The Scotts Company UK Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the HSWA 1974 at a hearing on 12 November. The court fined the firm £80,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £19,962.

In mitigation, The Scotts Company said it deeply regretted the incident and was “devastated” by the loss of the employee, who was well liked by all of his colleagues. The firm also revealed that as a result of the accident it has now welded the machine’s access gate in place, preventing access to the danger area.

HSE inspector Richard Noble told SHP: “This is a tragic accident that should never have occurred. The access gate should either have been reconnected, or the company should have used a padlock and chain to prevent access to the machine. Instead it chose to use a temporary fix, when a permanent solution would have been easy to put in place. As a result of this decision a member of staff needlessly lost his life.”

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