A company that manufactures duvets, pillows and mattress protectors was found guilty of breaching health and safety legislation after a worker was seriously injured by a machine.

On 13 January 2011 the 32-year-old worker, who asked the Health and Safety Executive not to publish her name, had her thumb and three fingers on her right hand severed by a blade in a machine that she worked with. Whilst working her shift at the Blackstock Street factory, Liverpool, she had noticed that an edge of one of the quilts was going to wrap around the rollers above the machine and believed that this would stop production, and possibly damage the machine. She therefore made her way past the mesh guard that was supposed to separate workers from the machines and tried to pull the quilt free. However, the clamp holding the quilt in place closed on the worker’s hand and the blade of the machine cut through her right hand, severing three fingers and a thumb. Although she later had the fingers and thumb re-attached in surgery it is not known at this time whether she will be able to successfully use the hand again.

The company that employed the worker, Downland Bedding Company Ltd, was subsequently investigated by the Health and Safety Executive and prosecuted under health and safety legislation.

Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states that:

“Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken…which are effective to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

The Downland Bedding Company Ltd was found in breach of the statutory health and safety legislation, primarily because they had failed to provide suitable training, and had failed to  prevent access to a dangerous machine when it was still running.

Downland Bedding Company Ltd was subsequently fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £5,876 in costs. It is unknown at this time whether the worker is pursuing a claim for personal injury against Downland Bedding Company Ltd.

Marc Hadrill, a personal injury specialist from Redmans Solicitors, stated that: “This case shows that employers have specific obligations when it comes to training their staff and protecting them from being harmed by dangerous equipment. Failure to do so has not only resulted in a fine to the company but quite a serious personal injury to the worker involved.”

 

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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