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£400k fine for packagers’ ‘utterly dangerous’ maintenance procedures

A supplier of corrugated cardboard packaging has been prosecuted after one of its maintenance workers was dragged into machinery and injured.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that a worker was repairing a printing, slotting and forming machine at Diamond Box’s factory in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. He put his foot onto an exposed conveyor and was dragged into the machine’s moving parts. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that Diamond Box allowed uncontrolled maintenance work without a risk assessment. 

Its investigation found that the machine had a “jog mode” which, had it been enabled, would have allowed the repair to be carried out safely. However, the company had failed to identify this setting. 

Diamond Box pleaded guilty to a breach of s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £400,000 with costs of almost £99,000. 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Lane said: “The company relied on the experience of maintenance employees rather than controlling risks through careful assessment and putting safe systems of work in place.”

She said that, in summing up, Judge Berlin considered maintenance practices at the plant to be “utterly dangerous” and said the risk to workers was “wholly avoidable”.

Keeley Downey is assistant editor of IOSH Magazine

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