HSE Fine Company £18k After Worker Left Paralysed

A manufacturing firm in Droitwich has been fined £18,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after one of its employees was left paralysed from the chest down in a workplace incident.

Mountfield CNC Ltd was handed the fine following an investigation by the HSE that found the company had failed to take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous parts of its machinery. Mountfield CNC pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was ordered to pay court costs of £3,094 in addition to the £18,000 fine.

At the time of the incident in January 2022, the employee who suffered the injuries had been working for Mountfield CNC at its Berry Hill Industrial Estate site in Droitwich. On the day in question, the man was setting up a CNC machine. CNC machines are manoeuvrable, motorised tools that often also have motorised and manoeuvrable platforms that are controlled by a computer. It is then that the man got entangled in the machine’s moving parts and he suffered a fractured neck that resulted in him becoming paralysed.

Following a subsequent investigation by the HSE, it was found that the machine came fitted with interlocking safety guards but that the interlocks had been disabled prior to the incident. This meant that the machine could move without the guardrails in place resulting in the man suffering life-changing injuries that could have been easily avoided.

In a statement on the HSE website announcing the decision, HSE inspector Harry Shaw said: “This life-changing injury was easily preventable, and the risk should have been identified.’’

The HSE found that the company should have been aware of the importance of effective interlocking guards as well as ensuring they were monitored regularly to identify any issues early.

Key Takeaways For Employers

In this case, the manufacturing company was negligent in maintaining and regularly inspecting its machinery, resulting in a worker getting seriously injured. In its statement, the HSE went on to say that ‘’employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery.” 

The fact that the life-changing injuries suffered by the man in question were easily preventable makes this incident even more tragic. Such avoidable accidents should be a wake-up call to employers whose workers use heavy or dangerous machinery. Following safety protocols and health and safety guidelines may seem costly or time-consuming but the consequences of not doing so tend to end up being even more costly.

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