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Tragic death at plastics firm “could have been prevented”

October 12, 2012

Yet another reason for ensuring sufficient workplace safety measures are put in place by employers and provision for personal injury claims for accident victims and their families was the tragic death of a worker at a plastics firm.

The worker fell into a machine while trying to repair it and was killed. The employer, a recycling firm, JFC Plastics Ltd was fined after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for breach of its obligation to provide a safe working environment for its workers.

The death took place in 2005, but it was only last week that the Liverpool Crown Court made its decision about the culpability of the plastics firm.

The worker who died, 31 year old Steven Bennett, apparently died trying to remedy a fault in a machine used to pull apart blocks of plastic bottles which are brought to the plant for recycling. It is still not exactly known what was the original reason for Mr. Bennett’s decision to reach into the machine, but it is assumed from the circumstances and the past record of the equipment that that was what had happened.

He was last seen still alive early on the morning that the accident happened by his colleagues.

The court heard from the HSE that the firm had not made a sufficient attempt at ensuring that the machine could not be accessed while still working. It should have also had a way in which it could be shit down whenever there was a problem, so the fault could be remedied safely.

All employers are expected to carry out an adequate risk assessment of their operating machinery and also ensure that workers are trained sufficiently to allow safe handling of equipment as well as being provided with effective safety gear.

The HSE’s case against the recycling firm stated that it failed on all three counts.

The firm was fined a total of £240,000, including court costs. Tanya Stewart, the HSE inspector involved in presenting information at the court case, said that the prosecution should be a warning to all other employers to make sure that they think carefully about what provisions they have in place for workplace safety. The fatal accident at the Bold plant could have been easily prevented with simple steps that could have so easily been put in place.