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Accident compensation for crush death

Cogs in a machine turning
14th May 2014

The family of a factory worker who was killed when his neck was crushed by a pneumatic hatch on a pet food mixing machine could now go on to make successful accident compensation claims following a court ruling this week.

H G Gladwell and Sons Ltd, which manufactures animal feed and pet food at Copdock Mill just outside Ipswich, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure the sliding hatch on the top of the machine was safe.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that a mill operator/supervisor who was 61 years of age and lived in Ipswich, was believed to be attempting to retrieve a plastic jug that had fallen into the machine when the incident happened on May 19th 2009.

His workmates found the man lying face-down on top of the mixing machine with his head and right arm trapped by the pneumatic hatch. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

H G Gladwell & Sons Ltd of Copdock Mill, Ipswich, admitted breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 11 by failing to ensure effective measures were taken to prevent access to the hatch.

This failure however was not said to be the cause of his death – but could still form the basis for the subject of potential work compensation claims.

The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £20,437.40 costs, while even more money may have to be paid by the firm upon the victim's family possibly winning an accident compensation payout.
Glyn Davies, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"There were measures the company could have put in place to prevent access to the top of the mixer, such as sufficient guarding, a remotely positioned operating switch or a grille over the sliding pneumatic hatch itself.

"They singularly failed to implement any of these straightforward protective measures. It is vital that manufacturing firms make sure that dangerous parts on their machines are identified and properly guarded.

"As we have seen here today, machines like these can be incredibly dangerous and no company should take these unnecessary risks."

A total of 25 workers were killed and more than 4,000 suffered major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain last year.

Of these, 3 workers were killed and 318 received major injuries in the East of England. Information on preventing injuries is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.

Posted by Bryony Flack-Crane