An Ellesmere Port firm has been fined £80,000 after a man was pulled into industrial machinery leaving him with horrific injuries.
Piotr Chrzanowski, 20, who is from Ellesmere Port but originally from Poland, was working on a conveyor belt when he received the life changing injuries, losing the use of both of his arms.
Freeland Horticulture Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found Mr Chrzanowski had been able to gain access to a dangerous part of the machine while it was still operating.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Mr Chrzanowski had been working on the equipment, which processes green waste material and turns it into a peat replacement product, at the company’s site on Newbridge Road. He had been trying to free some blocked material when he became caught by a rotating drum underneath the conveyor belt.
Mr Chrzanowski suffered breaks to his left arm and collar bone, crush injuries and torn muscles across his back and shoulders. He had been unable to return to work due to the extent of his injuries.
He was ‘pale and struggling to breathe,” the court was told. His life was saved by a colleague who quickly put the conveyor belt into reverse.
The court heard Freeland Horticulture had failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place for clearing blockages and workers had not received instructions or information on how to carry out this work.
HSE issued an immediate prohibition notice shutting down the entire production line until the machine guards were improved and a system put in place to cut the power before maintenance work could be carried out.
The Lincolnshire based company pleading guilty to two breaches of health and safety legislation on November 19. In addition to the fine the firm was ordered to pay £3,439 in prosecution costs.
Judge Andrew Menary, QC said the outcome ‘could have been fatal’.
He said: “This injury is of real significance because he is a manual labourer. That is all he is qualified to do.
“He has not returned home to see his family and friends in Poland since the accident for one year because he is unable to get on an aeroplane or a coach. He is fearful of what the future brings.”
The judge said that the injury was ‘obviously foreseeable’ and ‘it was a case of not if but when the accident would occur’.
Rosalind Emsley-Smith, prosecuting, said: “He has no sensation in his left arm and restricted movement in his right arm. His body is covered in scars.
“He is still in pain and is taking strong painkillers.
“He says that he feels like he has lost everything, his job, his social life. He suffered nightmares and flashbacks.”
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Carroll said: “Mr Chrzanowski has suffered devastating injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life because Freeland Horticulture failed to take its responsibilities for health and safety seriously.
“It simply shouldn’t have been possible to access dangerous parts of the machine while it was still operating and workers shouldn’t have been put in a position where they reached in to clear blockages by hand.
“I’d urge manufacturing companies to think carefully about the real dangers facing their workers and then take action to improve safety.”
The company employs 40 people.