An international paper manufacturer has been ordered to pay £260,000 in fines and costs for serious safety failings after a mill worker was crushed between two large rollers running at full production speed.
Family man Richard Zebedee, 45, from Ivybridge died at the Arjo Wiggins site at the Stowford Mill on 28 April 2009. He died after being drawn into poorly-guarded rollers while trying to clear waste material from them.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive, which brought a prosecution against Arjo Wiggins Ltd, of Manchester, at Plymouth Crown Court today (Monday 22 October).
The court heard there had been significant production problems on the day of the incident before Mr Zebedee started his shift in the drier area of the mill, with paper breaks and waste material affecting the process.
At one stage in production, Mr Zebedee gained access to the large rollers by opening a gate, which had an unlocked padlock, and used a long-handled tool to clear waste material, known as “broke”. At the time, the rollers were running at production speed of 131 metres a minute.
Mr Zebedee was drawn into the rollers and suffered severe crush injuries. Despite the efforts of fellow workers to free him and administer first aid, he showed no signs of life.
HSE found significant failings by the company in guarding the rollers and in the amount of training given to Mr Zebedee. The padlock on the gate was often left unlocked and staff had reported it to management.
In addition, although he had worked at the mill for a year-and-a-half, Mr Zebedee had only started work as a drierman a fortnight before the incident. He had taken part in training after his eight-hour shifts but several items on his training log had not been signed-off.
The investigation also found other staff had been working inside areas of the machine which should not have been accessed.
Arjo Wiggins (Ivybridge) Ltd of Great Bridgewater Street, Manchester, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £60,000 in costs.
via Paper firm fined after death of South Hams worker.
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