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Firm hit with £240,000 penalty after worker's machine death
5:21pm Friday 28th September 2012 in News
A RECYCLING company has been ordered to pay £240,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed in a bottle crushing machine at a St Helens factory.
The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted JFC Plastics Ltd, previously known as Delleve Plastics Ltd, after Steven Bennett died at the company’s former premises at the Neills Road Industrial Estate in Bold.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Mr Bennett, 31, was last seen alive by his colleagues in the early hours of the morning on November 24, 2005.
The HSE investigation concluded that the most likely cause of his death was that he fell into a machine, used to break apart bales of plastic bottles, while checking to see if it was running smoothly.
The court was told JFC Plastics failed to take steps to prevent access to the machine while it was operating and did not ensure power to the machine was cut before maintenance work was carried out.
The company also had an inadequate risk assessment in place and its training, supervision and monitoring of the work did not meet acceptable standards.
JFC Plastics Ltd, of Goldicote Business Park, Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of employees who were operating the machine.
The company was sentenced following a Newton hearing (where a jury is not present) in which the judge found that its failings were a significant cause of Mr Bennett’s death.
JFC Plastics was fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £100,000 in prosecution costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Tanya Stewart said: “This was a tragic death that could have been prevented if JFC Plastics had put more thought into the safety of its employees and the adequacy of its working practices.
“Employees regularly entered the machine to remove entangled wire, but there were no safeguards in place to prevent them carrying out this work while the machine’s parts were still moving.
“I hope this case will act as a warning to companies to think more carefully about the safety of workers who clean, maintain or repair machines or who clear blockages.”