1 August 2019 by Joshua Doherty

Plastics recycler fined after baler injures worker’s hand

A Manchester-based plastics recycler has been fined £13,000 after an employee seriously injured his hand and lost two fingers whilst operating a baler at a site in Bolton.

The incident at the site at Bradford Street, operated by Wrapp Recycling Ltd, occurred on 2 October 2018.

The prosecution was brought by the Health and Safety Executive

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the incident occurred when the worker had attempted to clear a blockage in the hopper of the machine while it was switched on.

HSE added that after removing the guard from the machine he leaned in to clear the blockage. The machine’s ram then activated, crushing his hand. The incident caused extensive damage to his hand, including the amputation of two fingers for which he is still undergoing treatment.

Blockages

An investigation by the HSE found the company had installed a removable guard as blockages in the machine occurred frequently.

However, it claimed that employees were not informed of the dangers of accessing the hopper while the power was on. HSE said that investigators found that it was common practice to clear the machine by hand with the machine still running.

The HSE added that the investigation also found there was “no suitable risk assessment in place” which would have identified the necessary control measures needed, such as a fixed guard and a safe lock off.

Penalty

At Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court this week, Wrapp Recycling Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,951.90.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Catherine Lyon said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and implementing a safe system of work.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

In  a statement to letsrecycle.com, Wrapp Recycling Ltd said: “Wrapp Recycling Ltd deeply regrets the circumstances of the incident; the safety of its employees is of the highest importance.  At the time, the system of clearing a blockage in the baler was deficient, however since the company has co-operated fully with the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation and all remedial measures have been taken, to the Health and Safety Executive’s satisfaction, to remove the risk of re occurrence.”

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