A textile manufacturer has been convicted of safety failings after a worker was killed when he was dragged into a stretch roller.
Javeed Ghaffar was working the night shift at IFG Drake – a worldwide manufacturer of polypropylene, polyethylene, polyamide fibre and filament yarn – when the incident happened on 24 March 2017.
The 51-year-old was using a knife to clear a blockage in the machine when he was suddenly dragged into it. He was pulled around the roller at least twice.
Colleagues at the plant in Golcar, Huddersfield pressed the emergency stop button and cut his clothes, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Leeds Crown Court was told he had sustained 26 rib fractures, some of which had torn his left lung, a fractured pelvis and a fracture-dislocation to his spine.
There were also lacerations to his liver and a traumatic dissection of the aorta. Minimal internal bleeding indicated a very short survival time.
The machine, which was used to make fine polypropylene fibres for tea bags, commonly 'lapped' fibres on the rollers, which caused a blockage.
According to the Examiner Live, prosecutor Craig Hassall said the fibres were sometimes cut by putting a wooden pole with a serrated metal blade on the end through a safety gate.
'Familiarity and the lack of previous incidents had led to a prevailing attitude of complacency'
But he said this did not always work and it had been practice for decades for staff, including managers, to reach around the safety gate and cut the laps by hand with a knife. The emergency stop bar was not accessible from this position.
The Swedish firm, which had a turnover of £33.7m last year, admitted breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Judge Andrew Stubbs QC fined IFG Drake £366,850 plus costs of £23,993. He gave it five years to pay the penalty.
'My assessment of all the evidence is that the company's attitude to health and safety has been lax,' the judge told the court.
In calculating the fine, he took into account the company's lack of previous convictions, its co-operation with the prosecution and in implementing new health and safety measures, its turnover and if the fine he imposed would put the company out of business.
'The position had not arisen, I find, because of any desire by the company to cut costs,' he added. 'It was simply that familiarity and the lack of previous incidents had led to a prevailing attitude of complacency and indeed resistance to change or suggestions being made by the outside health and safety consultant.'