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Hartlebury brick makers fined £31k after employee crushed
A HARTLEBURY brick makers has been fined £31,000 after an employee was crushed on a conveyor belt.
Wienerberger Ltd pleaded guilty at Kidderminster Magistrates Court today to breaching two health and safety regulations, which resulted in a serious accident.
On October 19, 2009, machine operator Michael Jordan went through a gate into a guarded area to investigate a blockage in the production line.
“He was crushed by a gripper crane, which came down on him, forcing him onto the bed of the conveyor belt,” said Christopher Gregory prosecuting.
Mr Jordan was off work for five and a half weeks while he recovered from his injuries.
Mr Gregory said the gate Mr Jordan had passed through was fitted with a safety device which meant that when it was opened, it cut the power to the machinery.
“Mr Jordan went through the access door in belief that doing so would make the production line safe,” he said.
“The interlock was not working and had been deliberately disabled,” he added.
He said it had either not been replaced after routine work on October 14 or had been disabled between then and the accident.
“He should not have been exposed to the risk,” said Mr Gregory. “There was a potential for a fatality.” he added.
Kevin Elliott, defending the international company, which has two production lines at Hartlebury Trading Estate, said Mr Jordan, was experienced, competent and fully trained.
“Mr Jordan chose to access contrary to the manner at which he had been trained. To access level one from the production gate required an act of quite some gymnastics.”
He called the accident “entirely a one-off” and added: “It was never envisaged and it’s fair to say that it was never forseen by Wienerberger that somebody would access level one from the printer gate.”
He said: “This is a company with a good safety record. This is a company that does take safety seriously.” He added lessons had been learnt from the incident and new steps had been taken across the whole group.
The brick manufacturers, which has been at the Hartlebury site since 2006, was fined £31,626 for failing to provide efficient protective devices and failing to make a sufficient risk assessment.