Littleborough company fined after worker's arm is crushed

Date published: 29 January 2021

Littleborough based company Ken Mills Engineering Ltd has been fined for safety breaches after a 48-year-old worker suffered a life-threatening injury.

Leeds Crown Court heard that on 9 February 2017, the 48-year-old worker was repairing a Trojan Haylage Baler at a farm in Wakefield when his left arm was trapped and crushed by a hydraulic ram.

The arm was partially severed at the scene; required several operations and following medical complications was amputated from above the elbow.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that several engineers had been involved over a number of days to repair the baler. HSE reported that this work had not been subject to a risk assessment and engineers were not provided with effective information, instruction and training for this activity. They were left to devise their own system of work, which consequently was not safe.

Ken Mills Engineering Ltd of Greenvale Business Park, Littleborough were found guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £18,000 and ordered to pay £50,494.18 in costs.

Andrew Mills, managing director of Ken Mills Engineering said: "As a family business we place the health and safety of our employees at the forefront of everything we do. Everybody connected with Ken Mills Engineering deeply regrets the incident in which one of our employees was injured. The employee has been a valued member of our team for almost 15 years and remains so. This is the first prosecution in the business' history which stretches back nearly 70 years.

"The incident arose when the employee placed his hand inside a machine whilst it was connected to power. This is contrary to all trained procedures and process which require machinery to be isolated if works behind guarding are being undertaken. The judge recognised that the company had taken significant steps to address health and safety around machinery operation.

"The company entered a guilty plea which accepted the single failing that more could have been done in relation to the electrical knowledge of employees working away from the company's premises. The low level of fine reflects that fact that there were other contributory factors to the incident, namely that the machine owner had wired the machine in a manner preventing safe isolation in the standard manner and that the employee overrode the machine isolator by inserting a screwdriver into it.

"The company remains committed to doing all it can to ensure that no similar incident take place again. We have worked closely with our longstanding health and safety consultant and reviewed our processes and training."

After the hearing, HSE inspector Louise Redgrove commented: “It was reasonably practicable for Ken Mills Engineering Ltd to have done more to ensure engineers were working safely.

“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had assessed the repair activity; identified site specific hazards and typical custom and practice, provided a safe working procedure and then effective information, instruction and training for that procedure and the repair work that day.”

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