A Midlands firm has been fined after an un-named worker at its Coalville factory suffered horrific injuries to his left hand in 2010 in an accident at work.

Schlegel Automotive Europe Ltd’s provides sealing services to the automobile industry. The worker was working at their Coalville factory on 4 March 2010 when the accident occurred. He was working on a 20 ton injection moulding machine when he realised that there was a problem with the machine. He investigated and discovered that there was a blockage around the heated nozzle. However, whilst attempting to clear the blockage he slipped and the heated nozzle fell on his left hand, causing him severe injuries. These injuries entailed the amputation of all four fingers on his left hand.

Schlegel Automotive Europe Ltd was later prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive under the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974. The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the injection moulding machine was in a poor condition and hadn’t been maintained to an adequate standard. The interlock system hadn’t been adequately maintained and therefore failed to work properly, leading to the accident. A subsequent audit also found that similar machines were similarly in need of repair. The company was found guilty of breaching s.2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974 and fined £9,000. They were also ordered to pay £6,584 in costs.

S.2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act etc 1974 states that:  “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”. Schlegel clearly breached this duty by failing to maintain their machines to a reasonable standard, causing a horrific injury to one of their workers in the process.

The Health and Safety Executive representative commented that: “Had the company carried out regular preventive maintenance and acted upon the results of daily checks on the safety systems on this machine, a man might not have suffered such a dreadful debilitating injury.”

Marc Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans specialising in personal injury law, commented that: “Cases like this serve to emphasise the obligations that employers have relating to workplace health and safety. Ideally, workers and employees shouldn’t have to fear being injured at work because of the negligence or breach of statutory of their employers.”

It is unclear at this point whether the worker has also made a personal injury claim for negligence against Schlegel.

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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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