Man crushed - firm fined for negligence

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A PARKGATE firm has been fined £15,000 for failing to protect a worker who was crushed by a 1.5 tonne weight.

Sandwiched by machinery, victim Jim Baldwin was squashed by a 1.5 tonne weight that landed on his back, inflicting severe injuries.

It snapped off three of his vertebrae, broke his shoulder and cracked two of his ribs with the force of the pressure.

The Health and Safety Executive were called in to investigate after the September 2010 incident at Yorkshire Spin Galvanising Ltd, that involved a large zinc galvanizing machine and a junction box.

Mr Baldwin, as a maintenance engineer, had climbed on to a gantry inside the machine to investigate a fault. When the fault cleared he went to the rear of the gantry to check another repair he had made.

At that point he was out of sight of the operator. But the machine was still on, and as he leaned over a guardrail to get a good view, the counterweight fell and pinned him against the junction box.

The hapless worker managed to shout ‘stop’ to his colleagues before he finally passed out. A co-worker at the control panel was then able to lift the weight to free him.

HSE Inspector Denise Fotheringham said after the hearing at Rotherham Magistrates Court : “This could easily have been a fatal incident.

“The company’s procedures fell well below those we would normally expect. The machine is very large and maintenance workers routinely entered to fault-find. There were also blind spots where an engineer would be out of sight of the operator.

“There were no systems to isolate the machinery and engineers relied on emergency stops and interlocks. That’s woefully inadequate as there is a risk the machine could be re-started with the engineer inside.

“Machines should always be fully isolated from the power supply and if an engineer has to go in, it needs to be locked off with a padlock that only the engineer can undo once the work is complete”.

Yorkshire Spin Galvanising Ltd, registered at Leeds, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at their plant at Cornish Way, Parkgate.

The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs. Managing director David Wagstaff said: “We accept we made mistakes and have learned some difficult lessons. Measure are now in place to ensure nothing like this will happen again”.

Mr Baldwin recovered from his injuries and has now returned to work.