Loss of eye prompts £1m fine for tissue manufacturer

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A tissue manufacturer based in Wales has been fined £1 million for safety failings, following an incident where an employee was seriously injured by a crane hook.

Neath company Sofidel UK Limited, which manufactures kitchen and toilet tissue paper at its Baglan Energy Park site, was issued the fine following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into an incident that occurred in November 2019.

The worker involved was trying to clear a blockage in the paper machine, where a paper reel had become stuck on the exit rails. In his attempt to free the reel, the worker used an overhead crane.

However, the crane made contact with the spinning reel, which caused the crane hook to swing back into the worker’s face. He suffered multiple fractures, the loss of an eye and nine teeth.

HSE found that Sofidel UK Limited failed to identify this hazard in their risk assessment, even though it was revealed that paper reels regularly failed to eject properly from the machine. As a result, Sofidel had no controls in place to inform and instruct employees how to safely clear blockages. Only the most basic equipment was provided to operators.

Pleading guilty to Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Sofidel was fined £1 million and ordered to pay £13,446 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Matthew Gray said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by carrying out a suitable risk assessment which included non-routine operations such as clearing of blockages, and by implementing appropriate control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

If you have questions on risk assessments, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Who can conduct risk assessments?

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