A company director from Ellesmere Port has been handed a suspended prison sentence after one of his workers lost part of his arm when his jumper got caught in a machine he was cleaning, a court has heard.
Keith Lockett lost his right arm just below the elbow in the 'terrible incident' at Clark Technologies Wales Ltd on Deva Industrial Park on Factory Road in Deeside.
Company director Robert James Shepherd, 62, of Manor Park Drive, was given a 10-week prison sentence suspended for one year yesterday (November 29), after he pleaded guilty to failing to ensure his workers were kept safe.
The Daily Post reports that proceedings were also originally brought against the company itself, however it has since been put into liquidation and those proceedings were dropped.
Peter Hayes, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive at Wrexham Magistrates Court, said: “The recycling company was set up by him [Shepherd] and he was the only active director.
“On December 7 an employee was performing a clean down on a cleaning machine when his dominant right arm was amputated just below the elbow.”
The court heard that Mr Lockett, who had worked at the company since its creation in 2013, had taken part of the “high speed friction washer” apart, which was used to wash down old plastic bottles before they could be brought back into use.
There were proposals within the company to change from recycling coloured plastics to clear plastics, and Mr Lockett was in the process of cleaning down machines before this took place.
He took part of the washer apart, but found that part of the machine appeared to be blocked, so switched the power back on in order to try and remove the blockage.
Mr Lockett then turned off the machine, but “paddles” within it were still moving at a fast rate, and when he moved towards the interior of the machine, his jumper became caught and his arm was ripped off.
In a victim impact statement read out to the court, Mr Lockett said the accident had cost him his relationship with his girlfriend.
“I am still on painkillers and antidepressants and have been diagnosed with PTSD” he said.
The court heard he had been forced to sell his car to pay for his daughter’s second birthday, and said he felt his “whole life is on hold”.
He said he was worried about being able to provide for his daughter in the future.
Iain Simkin, defending, said workers were aware of the need to turn off machines properly before inspecting them, but accepted the rules were “general” and there was no specific risk assessment for the work being carried out by Mr Lockett.
He added: “Mr Shepherd was deeply shocked by Mr Lockett’s injury. It is a very small company with less than five people working there.
“Can I apologise on behalf of Mr Shepherd for the injury and harm that Mr Lockett has suffered in what was a terrible incident for all involved.”
The court heard Shepherd had admitted guilt at the earliest opportunity, had assisted the Health and Safety Inspectorate with their investigation, and had introduced new protocols after the incident to improve risk assessments.
It also heard Shepherd had no previous convictions.
Sentencing Shepherd, District Judge Gwyn Jones said: “This is a matter which I am satisfied that immediate custody could have been imposed.
“The operating system failed to adequately protect employees and others carrying out work in that area.
“Shutdown procedures were inadequate.
“Having taken into account everything that has been said, I am satisfied that [Shepherd] has also been affected as a result of this matter.”
Shepherd was also ordered to pay costs of £4,000.