Court action for textile firm over employee’s crushed fingers

A West Yorkshire textile firm has been prosecuted for safety failings after a Huddersfield woman was left with lasting hand damage when her fingers were crushed in a yarn processing machine.

The 59-year-old was injured at Lawton Yarns Ltd’s Ravensthorpe factory in Dewsbury as she reached under the rollers of a carding machine to retrieve some fibres. Her fingers got caught and drawn into the in-running nip.

Kirklees Magistrates heard today (19 March) that three fingers of her right hand were badly crushed and she has required multiple visits to hospital for operations and physiotherapy. She has not regained full use of her hand since the incident on 7 March 2013.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution against Lawton Yarns Ltd after finding it had failed to fully assess the risks of the miniature carding machine, despite having several full-size carding machines at the premises.

The court was told the company bought the machine second-hand in 2000 and had assessed it, fitted guards and developed a safe system of work. However, it didn’t take into account the risks of access to the carding rollers from the underside, a well-recognised danger in the industry.

As a result, no action had been taken to guard that part of the machine, and prevent workers getting too close to dangerous moving parts.

Lawton Yarns Ltd., of Raven Ing Mills, Dewsbury, was fined a total of £5,000 with £648 to pay in costs after admitting single breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Neil Hope-Collins, said:

“Lawton Yarns’ key failing was not to assess the risks adequately in the first place. The assessment is the platform for informing you of the controls and measures you need. If the former is lacking, then so are the controls. In this case, a vital risk was missed and an employee now has to live with the serious consequences.

“The incident demonstrates that a risk assessment is not an administrative, paper exercise. If companies do not do it properly in the first place, they will always struggle to put in place proper safeguards.”

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Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken…which are effective to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
  3. Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations l999 states: “Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.”


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