Devon paper mill death: £400,000 fine
Death in unguarded machinery: £400,000 fine
Health and Safety Executive v DS Smith Paper Ltd (2015) Exeter Crown Court, August 11
DS Smith Paper Ltd has been fined following the death of a worker in unguarded machinery.
Significant points of the case
In September 2011 John Stoddart was working at the company’s paper mill in Devon. He was attempting to smooth out felt on a conveyor. He was pulled into the machinery and suffered fatal crush injuries.
The deceased was trying to identify a problem which caused creases in large rolls of paper. He climbed onto a work platform to check if the creases were caused by problems with the belt, which was used to squeeze water from wood pulp.
It was thought that the deceased was dragged onto the felt belt and then into the machinery below.
The company had failed to place any guard around the belt and did not have a suitable risk assessment for work which needed to be carried out to find the cause of creases.
The company was fined £400,000 plus £34,000 costs under regulation 11, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, for failing to prevent access to a dangerous part of machinery.
An HSE inspector is reported to have commented after the case that a proper risk assessment would have highlighted dangers with the machinery and established safe practices for workers instead of putting their lives at risk.