Flexible packaging firm fined for health and safety breach

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Arrow Flexible packaging has been ordered to pay £4,500 (€5,200) after one of its workers lost two fingers in a packaging machine.

The UK-based company, which pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 costs following the incident at its Manchester plant almost a year ago.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the 53-year-old female operator was replacing a rubber insert under a cutting tool on the equipment when it began operating.

The tool, part of a machine used to punch holes in plastics bags , came down on her left hand. She lost her entire index finger and her middle finger to below the second knuckle. The employee has been unable to return to work.

Improvement notices

The safety body’s probe found suitable guards were not in place to prevent workers gaining access to the cutting tool while the machine was operating, and that it was common practice for employees to change the rubber on the tool without the power to the machine being cut.

It subsequently issued six Improvement Notices and one Prohibition Notice following the accident ordering safety improvements and prohibiting a printing press from operating until suitable guards had been installed.

The HSE said it was unable to confirm what caused the machine to start operating when the rubber insert was being replaced, but found the buttons which operated it were unsuitable and could have been pressed by accident.

“A worker has been left with a life-long injury and has been unable to return to work as a result of an incident which could easily have been avoided,”​ said HSE inspector Emily Osborne. “There should have been suitable guards and safety devices fitted to the machine to make it impossible for employees to gain access to the dangerous cutting tool while it was in operation.”

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