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Company and individual in court after employee loses both of his legs

Both a scrap metal company and a businessman have been in court after serious safety breaches led to a site worker losing both of his legs.

What happened?

The 42-year-old worker was fixing a problem inside a five-metre long baler at H Ripley & Co’s East Sussex site, when the 16-tonne doors of the machine began to close.

He tried to stop the doors with the remote control, but it failed to respond.

He then made a last-minute attempt to escape in the last remaining seconds, but the force of the doors hit his legs as he attempted to crawl away.

One of his legs was severed, and the other was so seriously injured that it was later amputated in hospital.

An investigation into the incident found that H Ripley & Co had not ensured that a satisfactory isolation procedure for the baler was in place. Additionally, the court heard that the remote control, which had been built by John Platt, was faulty.

What was the outcome?

H Ripley & Co. pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £34,633 in costs.

John Platt pleaded guilty to breaching the same Act, and was fined £10,000 with £5,000 to pay toward costs.

HSE Inspector, Stephen Green, said:

“This was a horrific incident in which a worker suffered the loss of both
legs, endured a sixth-month period in hospital and who will
now spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

“It was also entirely preventable, H Ripley & Co had completely neglected
to consider the risks and identify control measures needed to
operate the machine safely. It had failed to ensure that
there was a system to isolate the machine from
power before anyone could get inside.

“It appears that no thought was given to the safety aspects of the remote
units for the baler or the way they worked. Had original remotes been
sourced or had John Platt manufactured fully functional
alternatives, it is likely the incident
would not have happened.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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