A COMPANY has been fined £60,000 after a female employee suffered life-changing injuries when her hair and scarf got tangled in a factory conveyor.
Agency worker Kelly Nield, 24, from Ellesmere Port, suffered life-changing injuries and could have been killed in the accident, Mold Crown Court was told.
Mainetti UK Ltd, which employed 200 people in the manufacture and recycling of coat hangers for supermarkets in Deeside, was also ordered to pay £21,600 costs after it admitted four charges brought by the Health and Safety Executive following what prosecutor Simon Parrington called ‘a horrific accident’ in April 2009.
Miss Nield sustained serious injuries to the neck and throat, together with the loss of her hair which was pulled from her head, and a fractured finger.
She lent forward to free blocking coat hangers, her scarf became entangled in the cog mechanism, her hair followed and as she tried to free herself, her left hand became entangled.
Her little finger became trapped, was fractured and was almost severed.
There was no emergency stop button and it could easily have been a fatality, said Mr Parrington.
The court heard she had been left with life-time scaring, a loss of confidence, she had nightmares and flashbacks and three years later still had disabling injuries, had severe throat injuries and could not swallow, and had been fitted with a stomach peg through which she took liquids.
The chain and sprocket drive of the conveyor on which she was working was inadequately guarded.
Miss Nield, an agency worker, had been provided with some training but that did not cover the dangers of working with convenors.
She shouted for help and was eventually freed when a co-worker ran to and pushed the main off button some distance away.
Her hair had been torn from her head when she was trapped.
Defending barrister Simon Antrobus said managing director Jim Hutchinson and other senior company officials wished to publicly apologise to Miss Nield for the injuries she had suffered and said that the company accepted full responsibility immediately.
HSE Inspector David Wynne, speaking after the hearing, said: “These horrific, life-changing injuries sustained by Ms Nield could easily have been avoided if the right safeguarding measures had been taken by Mainetti (UK) Ltd.
“There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts. It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.
“Employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with this sort of equipment.”