, ,

Despite the vast amount of FREE safety advice available to employers, a company has been fined £60,000 after a young worker was severely injured when her hair was ripped out by poorly guarded machinery.

Kelly Nield, 25, of Ellesmere Port, was sorting clothes hangers on a conveyor at Mainetti (UK) Ltd in Deeside Industrial Park  when her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt as she bent over to remove accumulated hangers.

She sustained serious throat injuries, lost a substantial part of her hair and fractured a finger in the incident  requiring a number of operations and was in hospital for three months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found Mainetti (UK) Ltd;

  1.  had fitted a guard to the conveyor but it did not fully enclose the dangerous moving parts. There was no emergency stop button on the conveyor which could have lessened the impact of the incident.
  2. the company’s risk assessment failed to identify the dangers of entanglement in conveyors, and the need to keep hair and loose clothing secure when near the machinery was poorly enforced.

The firm were prosecuted for serious safety failings at Mold Crown Court and pleaded guilty to breaching three regulations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and one breach under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health at Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Prosecutor Simon Parrington described how Kelly lent forward to rectify a blockage on the line, her scarf became entangled in an inadequately guarded cog mechanism.

The worker’s hair then followed and as she tried to free herself, her left hand also got caught up. She suffered serious injuries to neck, throat and hair.

Mr Parrington described how Miss Nield, first tried to free herself and then shouted for help. Eventually, another worker ran and pushed the main “off” button some distance away.

Mr Parrington said there was no emergency stop button on the line, Miss Nield was unable to save herself, and it could easily have been a fatality.

Judge Niclas Parry called it “an accident waiting to happen”.

hairIt was “a horrendous accident”, he said. “The worker had suffered dreadful injuries, and it was clear that no guidance or instruction had been provided to her.”

The company were fined a total of £60,000 and ordered the company to pay costs of £21,668 on 17 January 2013.

The managing director and senior officials wished to publicly apologise to Miss Neild for her injuries.

HSE Inspector David Wynne, speaking after the hearing, said ‘employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with equipment.”

Information on machinery guarding and other safety matters can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l22.htm