Journalist, SHP Online

October 14, 2015

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Pellet manufacturer sentenced after man dies in industrial blender

A pellet manufacturing company based in Mansfield has been ordered to pay £300,000 after an employee died when the industrial blender he was clearing unexpectedly started up.

51-year-old George Major, a father of one from Mansfield was clearing a blockage inside the blender at Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing Limited, when the incident occurred.

The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the 21 January 2011 incident found the guard had been removed from the machine and it had not been isolated and locked off from the electricity supply.

Nottingham Crown Court heard the blender was part of a process line in which shredded recycled paper was mixed with bitumen and oil before being pressed into pellets, dried and bagged. The pellets were then used to reinforce asphalt mixes for use in road surfaces.

The court was also told the production line was installed on a number of floors of the Crown Farm Industrial Estate building, and was computer controlled with control screens on two floors.

However, there was no computer control screen on the same floor as the blender with the control screen in use at the time of the accident on the floor below. There was no line of sight from this control screen to the blender. It was also pointed out in court that when the line was running, the factory was noisy.

It was also heard that:

  • there was no written system of work or instructions for isolation;
  • there was no instruction to lock off isolators;
  • there were no manuals or written instructions for operating plant;
  • there was no proper training for staff; and
  • there were no risk assessments for any work on the plant.

Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing Limited, of Strawberry Way, Crown Farm Industrial Estate, Forest Town Mansfield, admitted breaching guilty to Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and was fined £200,000 with costs of £100,000.

HSE Inspector Samantha Farrar said “Mr Major’s death was entirely avoidable and his life was needlessly lost. The failings by Rettenmaier UK Manufacturing Ltd caused a fatality in particularly distressing circumstances.

“The absence of an effective health and safety management system, including a lack of a safe system of work for equipment isolation and lock-off, risk assessment and proper training for staff, meant that all workers at the site were at risk.

“This tragic incident could have so easily been avoided if a few simple steps had been taken by the company.”

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Lorraine Owens
Lorraine Owens

Why hasn’t the director of the company been sentenced under the Corporate Manslaughter & Corporate Homicide Act 2007? This is shameful and a disgraceful waste of life. £300,000 fine is a joke

Patrick Burns
Patrick Burns

Almost 5 years for small justice. The prosecution cases in H&S related fatalities is still a joke, promised so much with past changes and still the same outcome. Years of agony for those nearest to someone killed and a paltry fine,

Henry
Henry

This is not justice for the death of a father; a working man; needlessly and when so forseeable.

Surely a much greater fine would be available to the justice system under the Corporate Manslaughter Act? I fully support what someone else pointed out; that individual prosecutions were very likely to have been possible and appropriate in this case. We know that you can’t insure against fines. Well, when they’re this low you don’t need to! !!