Waste firm heavily fined after contractor’s arm severed in workplace accident

by Redmans Solicitors on October 20, 2014

A Scottish waste recycling firm has been heavily fined by the courts after a worker’s arm was severed in a workplace accident.

Steve Dawson, who was 28 at the age of the accident, was employed as a line supervisor for Lowmac Alloys Limited at its premises at the Oldhall West Industrial Estate when the accident occurred on 8 February 2011.

On the day of the accident Mr Dawson was working on a conveyor belt separating plastic and paper by hand at the Oldhall premises. He noticed that there was a problem with the conveyor belt and that one of the metal containers that was supposed to pass through the belt had become trapped. In order to clear the blockage Mr Dawson opened an unguarded hinge and reached in; however, his arm came into contact with the moving belt and pulley and severed it at the shoulder.

The HSE was notified of the accident and subsequently investigated. This investigation found that Lowmac Alloys had failed to do the following:

  • Provide interlocking guards to stop dangerous parts moving before a worker entered the dangerous zones
  • Provide an effective system of supervision to prevent employees from entering danger zones
  • Provide a safe system of work
  • Undertake a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks that exposed parts of the conveyor belt posed to workers

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Lowmac Alloys Limited for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the case came to court on 6 October 2014. Lowmac Alloys pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £118,000, as well as being ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs.

Medical teams were unable to re-attach Mr Dawson’s arm and he has undergone substantial work on his shoulder to repair the damage. He has suffered from considerable pain and has been unable to return to work. It is not currently known whether Mr Dawson has or will make a claim for personal injury.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Employers have obligations under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent harm to an employee’s health, welfare or wellbeing. The courts found in this case that Lowmac Alloys had failed to take those steps.”

HSE inspector Mr Mark Carroll commented after the judgment was released: “This incident was entirely preventable. Lowmac Alloys Ltd had identified there was a high risk of crushing and trapping in the machinery, however, the company failed to provide interlocking guarding to the gate over the conveyor which would have cut power to the machinery when it was opened.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment tribunal no win no fee solicitors based in Richmond, London.

Redmans Solicitors

Redmans Solicitors

Commercial law, employment law and litigation firm based in Richmond, London
Redmans Solicitors

Previous post:

Next post: