Company Found Guilty for Health and Safety Violations

A company that has been prosecuted by the HSE for health and safety violations which resulted in one of its employees suffering a broken neck has been found guilty by the Magistrates’ Court. 

In December 2011, an unnamed employee (thirty-nine years of age at the time of the accident) was working for CRF (UK) Ltd in Wem, Shropshire, was working with a twin pillar drill when the sleeve on his overalls caught on the unguarded running drill spindle. As he was pulled into the rotating spindle, the man’s arm and upper body were dragged into the machine. The force of the machine caused him to break three bones in his neck, and he sustained serious lacerations and burns to his forearm.

The injured employee was immediately transported to hospital, and remained in the facility for seven weeks following the accident. He was forced to wear a neck brace after the incident to prevent further damage to the area, and had ten weeks of physiotherapy to help him regain strength in the left side of his body.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the accident, and found that the man’s employers-CRF (UK) Ltd, a steel engineering company-had not provided any guards to prevent access to the rotating spindles. There was no formal system of supervision or training in place in the company, as they relied on the experience and discretion of its operators to establish how work should be set up.

The HSE prosecuted the company for its health and safety violations, which were in breach of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. At Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court, the company pleaded guilty to the charges, and were fined £13,000 by the magistrates for the offences. They were also ordered to pay £7,871 in costs for the trial.

Employee Awarded Compensation for Hand Injury at Work

A woman has been awarded compensation for a hand injury that she sustained at work after appealing her case, which had initially been dismissed. 

In October 2009, Carol Kennedy of Dumbarton was working at the Chivas Brother-a famous whiskey company-bottling plant at Kilmalid. She was pushing a trolley of bottle caps weighing nearly 400kg from the storeroom to the production line when one of the wheels of the trolley became misaligned and locked.

In an attempt to move the trolley, Carol moved to the front to pull it through a passageway between two “autocol” machines. As she did so, her left hand became trapped between the cage of the trolley and one of the machines, crushing her hand and causing it serious damage.

Carol made a compensation claim for a hand injury at work against her employers. She claimed that they were in breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, and that their health and safety violations resulted in her painful accident.

The defendants denied liability for Carol’s injury. They claimed that Carol’s own negligence was the cause of the injury, as she showed a lack of care when she was manoeuvring the trolley in a manner other than how she had been trained. They claim that she should have sought assistance from her work colleagues when she was in difficulty.

Carol’s claim for compensation was initially dismissed at the Dumbarton’s Sheriff Court in June 2012. Carol and her legal team appealed the decision, and the case was heard at the Court of Session.

Lord Drummond Young heard the case, and found in her favour. He stated that Carol was only 5’3’’ tall, and would not have been able to see over the top of the laden trolley. Therefore, the risk of injury for a person of that stature was “reasonably foreseeable”, and should have been avoided.

Lord Young said Carol had no option other than to place her hands on vertical bars of the trolley as there were no external handles and could not be criticised in the circumstances for failing to seek assistance from other machine operators. He concluded that Carol therefore had no contributory negligence, and found her employer entirely liable. Lord Young awarded Carol £5,321 in compensation for a hand injury at work.