U.K.'s Linpac Packaging fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,553 in prosecution costs for failing to protect workers from dangerous machine parts, after a worker's fingers were severed at its St Helens, England, plant

BOOTLE, England , February 9, 2011 (press release) – A global packaging firm has been sentenced after a worker's fingers were severed at a St Helens factory.

The 49-year-old man, from Thornton near Crosby, lost the top of three fingers on his right hand while trying to clear a jam in a machine at the Reginald Road site on 13 March 2010.

Linpac Packaging Ltd, which has an annual turnover of £700 million and operates in 19 countries, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to protect workers from dangerous machine parts.

St Helens Magistrates' Court heard the worker, who has asked not to be named, was clearing a blockage in a machine used to dry plastic beads when the incident happened.

He had removed a discharge pipe to deal with the jam, when his hand came into contact with a 1.7-metre-long rotating screw, known as an auger. The HSE investigation found that workers were often at risk of being injured by the auger as they had to deal with blockages in the pipe once or twice a shift.

Linpac Packaging Ltd, of Park Square, Birmingham Business Park, Solihull, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,553 in prosecution costs on 8 February 2011.

Chris Goddard, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"Unfortunately, the company became used to the machine being blocked, and did not realise the danger workers faced when they removed the pipe to clear jams.

"It should have looked in more detail at how its employees were dealing with the blockages, so that action could have been taken to prevent someone being injured.

"Instead, workers were able to reach into the machine and were at risk of coming into contact with the rotating auger."

A total of 25 workers were killed and more than 4,000 suffered major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain last year. Information on preventing injuries is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing[1].

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