Nestle must pay £200k for death of grandfather at Halifax sweet factory

Hussain, victim of accident at Nestle
Hussain, victim of accident at Nestle

Nestle was ordered to pay more than £220,000 yesterday after a much-loved grandfather was killed while working at its Halifax sweet factory.

Nazar Hussain, 55, died of horrific head injuries when he was hit by moving machinery at the food giant’s Albion Mill plant in Bailey Hall Road.

Scene of the tragedy: Nestle worker Mr Hussain was loading pallets of empty Quality Street tins onto this line before he went inside to clear a blockage and was hit by moving machinery

Scene of the tragedy: Nestle worker Mr Hussain was loading pallets of empty Quality Street tins onto this line before he went inside to clear a blockage and was hit by moving machinery

The forklift truck driver was inside a depalletiser when his colleague returned from a break and restarted it, not knowing he was there.

Bradford Crown Court heard the tragedy could have been prevented if workers had been told how to use a simple safety key.

The court heard Mr Hussain, of Pear Street, Halifax, had come back early from a break and gone inside the machine, probably to clear a blockage on the Quality Street line.

His co-worker Shaid Naeem, who had been covering his break, restarted the machine after hearing its alarm sound.

The court heard he was not aware Mr Hussain had returned and could not see anyone inside the depalletiser when he walked around it to check.

Mr Hussain’s body was found crouched inside the machine.

He had been hit by a heavy robotic arm and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jonathan Salmon, prosecuting, stressed Mr Naeem was not to blame for the accident on December 7, 2008.

He told the court there was a safety key that immobilised the machine until it was replaced.

Workers were meant to remove it and keep it with them if they went into the danger area.

But they were not trained to use it and believed it was only for maintenance engineers.

The court heard the machinery’s operating instructions were confusing and reference to the key was removed when the instructions were reviewed in June 2008.

The Health and Safety Executive had also written to the company in 2002 about how to improve safety on a palletiser - a machine with similar risks.

But the advice was not applied to the depalletiser when it was installed in 2005.

John Cooper, mitigating, said Nestle has since overhauled its health and safety processes, installing a new key system and training staff to use it.

Parts of the machinery that were once yellow have also been painted black so high-visibility jackets can be seen against it.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Hussain’s daughter Sameena, 32, said her mother Mucktair Bi had been left “in pieces” by the tragedy.

“She grieves to this day and still asks questions as to how and why it happened,” she said.

“Our lives have undergone a complete change, and for that we blame Nestle for not having the proper fail-safes in place to stop something like this occurring.”

Nestle UK Ltd, of St George’s House in Croydon, London, admitted health and safety breaches.

The company was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of close to £42,000.

Judge Peter Benson said: “Mr Hussain’s life was priceless, and nothing can assuage the loss to his family resulting from his tragic death.”

Speaking after the hearing, a tearful Miss Hussain said: “The loss is still there but this has brought some closure.”

Mr Hussain, who was described as a highly-regarded family man, also leaves another daughter Nageena, 33, son Sajid, 35, and two grandchildren, aged six and 10.

HSE Inspector Jackie Ferguson said: “This was a terrible tragedy that could have been so easily avoided.

“A family has been left without a father and a provider due to Nestle’s inexcusable negligence.

“If anything positive is to come out of this terrible incident it is that other firms take note.”

A Nestle spokesman said the company deeply regretted the accident.

“We would like to take this opportunity to once again express our sympathy to Mr Hussain’s family,” he said.

“Corrective action and improvements have been instigated to prevent anything similar from happening again.”