Louth packaging firm fined £50k over factory accident

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A LOUTH-based company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £8,244 costs after an incident in which a new worker suffered serious injuries when he was thrown backwards over a machine he was operating.

D S Smith Packaging Ltd admitted breach of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act following the incident in which employee Daryl Bushnell’s right arm was shattered in five places.

Mr Bushnell, who also suffered cracked ribs, was off work for 15 months as a result of what happened on June 9 2010 at the company’s factory on the Fairfield Industrial Estate in Louth.

He subsequently underwent an operation to have two metal plates inserted into his arm.

Alan Hughes, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told Lincoln Crown Court the company had previously identified a risk in using the machine, which rolled up corrugated packaging.

He said: “Regrettably, having identified the risk nothing was actually done to implement any measures that would then deal with that risk.”

Mr Hughes told the court that Mr Bushnell, who had only been at the company for two weeks, was being trained to use the machine by another worker who himself was not fully trained.

The other employee started the machine not realising that Mr Bushnell was working on it. He was thrown backwards through the air and was left seriously injured.

Mr Hughes said an investigation revealed that the Swedish-manufactured machine was defective as well as having a design fault.

The court was told that the company, which had a turnover of £426m in 2010 with pre-tax profits of £28m, also had a previous health and safety at work conviction following a fatal accident at its Northfields factory in Louth in 2004.

John Cooper, representing the firm, said it spent £25,000 on a specially-made sensor device to prevent a similar incident re-occurring.

He said the firm co-operated fully with the investigation and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

“The reality is that they are a company that takes health and safety seriously. Over the last five years there has been a year on year drop in reportable accidents.

“This is at a time when the company has been growing.”