Insufficient guarding contributed to 2009 death of worker at ArjoWiggins' Stowford paper mill in Ivybridge, England, inquest jury finds; mill has spent £400,000 on improving safety

LOS ANGELES , September 19, 2011 () – An inquest jury in Plymouth, England, has ruled that a worker died from severe multiple injuries sustained in an accident at ArjoWiggins Ltd.'s Stowford Mill in Ivybridge, England, The Plymouth Herald reported on Sept. 16.

The jury found that guarding was inappropriate and insufficient, allowing "access to dangerous parts" of the line. It also concluded that training procedures for the dryerman position had not been followed.

The U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive inspected the site after the accident and concluded that safety measures were not being followed, and were inadequate for some parts of the machinery. The company has since spent £400,000 (US$629,202) on improving safety.

Richard Zebedee, who worked as a process operator, was pulled into fast-moving machinery at the paper mill, and died at a hospital after the incident on April 28, 2009.

Zebedee was trying to clear paper waste from fast-moving rollers with an improvised tool when the accident happened, the jury was told.

Gregory McCallion, a co-worker, said he saw Zebedee open a gate which had an unlocked padlock so he could reach the spinning rollers. McCallion said the action was against the company's safety guidelines, but it was not uncommon as workers were under pressure to complete their work.

McCallion said Zebedee had been employed at the mill for about a year, but this was the first time he had worked on the security paper being produced during that shift. Zebedee was responsible for drying and finishing the paper before the addition of chemicals, he added.

According to McCallion, Zebedee was going to use a small knife to clear the broke, but McCallion suggested he use a longer, improvised device.

The jury was told that staff members were given training, but Zebedee was promoted to the position of dryerman without completing all the required training because of staff shortages and illness.

Tony Lord, who was in charge of the line at the time, said Zebedee would have been aware of safety guidelines, including disengaging the rollers or stopping the line.

The primary source of this article is The Plymouth Herald, Plymouth, U.K., on Sept. 16, 2011.

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