A Deeside 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 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 on 11 April 2009 at Mainetti (UK) Ltd in Deeside Industrial Park. Miss Nield needed a number of operations and was in hospital for three months.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company for serious safety failings at Mold Crown Court.
HSE found Mainetti (UK) Ltd 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.
In addition, 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 court fined Mainetti (UK) Ltd of Oxnam Road, Jedburgh, a total of £60,000 and ordered the company to pay costs of £21,668 on 17 January 2013.
The company 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.
HSE Inspector David Wynne, speaking after the hearing, said:
“These horrific, life-changing injuries sustained by Ms Nield could easily have been avoided if the right safeguarding measures had been taken by Mainetti (UK) Ltd.
“There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts. It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.
“Employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with this sort of equipment.”