Elland firm fined after man’s arm mangled in machine

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A 35-year-old dad of two has been left with permanent loss of movement to his right arm following an industrial accident, Calderdale magistrates heard.

Christopher Davidson, of Siddal, Halifax, was injured while working a slatwall machine at Design and Display Ltd, Lowfields, Elland, in February 2011.

The company admitted breaching the Provision and Use of Work Regulations 1988 and was fined £2,000 with £1,613 costs and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.

The court was told Mr Davidson was a skilled operative and had trained colleagues on the machine which cuts and shapes large wall panels used for shopfitting.

There had been problems due to chains coming off rollers and maintenance engineers had replaced them.

When the problem recurred maintenance were called again and when the machine was re-started Mr Davidson put his arm through a slot at the front to remove some tape but his arm was pulled into the machine.

Magistrates saw a video showing colleagues rushing to his aid.

Mr Davidson spent two weeks in hospital and has had eight operations on his arm.

Mrs Rachel Brittain, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, said the company’s risk assessment hadn’t recognised the gap in the machine.

“There has been a huge impact on Mr Davidson and that of his family,” she said.

Henry Kirkup, mitigating for the company, said it had an exemplary safety record with no improvement notices or previous convictions in 23 years’ of trading.

Guards were fitted for safe access to drive units on the machine and there were operation risk assessments annually and monthly inspections for defects.

Staff were trained and inducted before operating the machine.

“No-one knows why Mr Davidson did what he did. He must have known the machine was running and he knew precisely how the machine worked and specifically knew not to put his hands beyond the slot at the front.”

Bench chairman Andrew Entwistle said Mr Davidson acted completely out of character.

“We are all guilty of that but that does not negate totally the company,” he said.

The court was told Mr Davidson was taking a compensation claim forward privately.