Company failed to spot working from height risk
A Manchester company has been fined following an incident where a worker fell into a pulping machine, sustaining a fractured foot.
The incident took place on 9th July 2014 at a paper mill in Manchester, where a worker was carrying out maintenance work. The employee of Valmet Ltd was working on a drive shaft, tightening some coupling bolts using a torque wrench. As the worker tightened the bolt, the wrench slipped off it and caused him to stumble backwards, falling through a rubber flap off an unprotected edge, and into the machine. The worker fell seven meters into darkness, into 2.5 meters of water. He swam to a ledge where he could hold on until he was rescued.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation and discovered that Valmet Ltd had also been involved in a double fatality that had occurred at other premises. The company pleaded guilty to breaching the health and safety regulations, and was fined £120,000, along with costs of £8,591.
Adam McMahon, an inspector for HSE, spoke after the court hearing, saying that a risk assessment had been carried out that same day, but the supervisor performed did the risk assessment was also trying to cover the duties of others.
The inspector added that sufficient time must be given to allow risk assessments to be correctly carried out. Measures put in place may include the use of specialist workwear, or scaffolding to prevent falls from height.