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Recycling company fined after employee’s jaw shattered

A recycling company based in Kent has been fined after an employee’s jaw was shattered into ‘pieces like cornflakes’, after being struck by a piece of plastic pipe that was ejected from a bandsaw.

What happened?

The 42-year-old employee had been cutting down an old gas pipe to be recycled at Kingsnorth Waste Management’s premises when the incident happened.

As he was feeding the curved section of the pipe into the bandsaw, when the blade became stuck in the plastic, turned it around and ejected it.

The pipe flew out of the machine at a high speed, striking the employee’s throat and chin. He sustained both broken upper and lower jaw bones and the hinges of his jaw had burst.

He has since undergone numerous operations over the last four years to reconstruct his jaw – including a bone graft from his hip – and has been left with irreparable nerve damage and still has problems eating.

An investigation into the incident found that there had been two more accidents that involved plastic pipe being ejected and hitting the workers – one of which involved a 16-year-old trainee.

The court heard that no measures had been taken to ensure that the machine used to cut the pipe would be safe for employees to use.

What was the outcome?

Kingsnorth Waste Management Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £3,000 in costs.

HSE Inspector, Gordon Chase, said:

“Kingsnorth Waste Management should have properly investigated how
the bandsaws operated and fully understood the risks of use that
were outlined in the instruction manual. That simple exercise
would have demonstrated the need to put effective controls
in place to safeguard their employees.

“The use of simple clamps or wedges, or the use of alternative
cutting equipment, would have allowed the job to be safely
carried out and avoided the life-changing injuries that
this worker suffered. In addition, it would have not
put others – including a teenager – in danger.

“Waste processing and recycling is a high-risk industry which
has a disproportionately large share of fatal and serious
injuries. Both individual companies and the industry
collectively, must improve the way that health
and safety, both of employees and
the public, is managed.”

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 claims@hampsonhughes.com

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