Firms fined for breach of Manual Handling Regulations

Fiberweb Geosynthetics, which manufactures synthetic building materials, has been fined £22,000 after two workers were injured in separate incidents in the space of six weeks at its site in Maldon.

In the first incident, on 7 January last year, an employee partially severed a finger pad when a 90kg reel of synthetic material fell, trapping his hand against the surface of a wrapping table.

He had been part of two-man team trying to lift the reel when his colleague lost his grip on the material, allowing it to drop.

On the 27 February, a second worker suffered a deep head laceration when an 850kg machine part that was badly secured to a crane fell and knocked him off a platform.

The accident happened while workers were manoeuvring the part to fit it at a height of about three metres. An eyebolt detached from its thread, causing the part to fall.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court was told on Tuesday (21 January) that the two injuries resulted from Fiberweb’s failure to risk assess the lifting operations and issue safe working procedures.

In the first case, the reel was almost double the weight of those usually produced at the plant, and the lift had not been attempted before.

Despite this, Fiberweb had not assessed the risks or made any changes to the system of work. It has since eliminated all manual handling from the process.

In the second case, both the injured worker and a colleague working with him had not been trained properly. The eyebolt had been inserted incorrectly and poor supervision left one worker standing in a dangerous position below the suspended part.

Fiberweb pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act,Regulation 4(1) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations and Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations. As well as the fine, magistrates ordered the company to pay £604 in costs.