A South Yorkshire steel fabrication firm and a German manufacturing firm were given heavy fines after a prosecution by Health and Safety Executives (“HSE”) after an employee was extremely seriously injured by being pulled through a gap no wider than a CD case in a factory in Barnsley.

Compass Engineering Ltd and Kaltenbach Ltd were fined a total of £115,000 after it was found that they had acted unlawfully in their provision and supervision of the manufacturing equipment which resulted in the incident on 19 December 2008.

Mr. Matthew Lowe, 23, an employee who worked at Compass’ factory in Whaley Road, Barnsley, was injured after being transferred from other duties to supervise the equipment – a computer-controlled conveyer system for moving heavy steel beams. After checking an outlet of the machine to determine the line of sight Mr. Lowe became caught in the conveyer belt. He was dragged through a gap no more than 125mm wide and suffered extremely serious injuries to his stomach, bowels, spine, pelvis, hips, right arm and ribs.

HSE jointly prosecuted both firms at the Sheffield Crown Court for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Compass was found guilty of breaching their duty under s.2(1) of the Act in failing to take reasonable precautions for the health and safety of its employees by failing to install and maintain sufficient guards on the equipment. Kaltenbach was found guilty of breaching their duty under s.6(1) to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that the equipment it had supplied was designed and constructed so that it would be safe and without risk to health.

As a result Compass was fined £45,000 (with £24,000 costs) and Kaltenbach was fined £30,000 (with £16,000 costs). Mr. Lowe, commenting upon the case, stated that “what matters most is that the industry learns from my experience… I hope my case highlights the dangers posed by not following health and safety regulations”.


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