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Suffolk firm fined after worker crushed to death

01 November 2011

A factory worker was killed when his neck was crushed by a pneumatic hatch on a pet food mixing machine, a court has heard

H G Gladwell and Sons, which manufactures animal feed and pet food at Copdock Mill just outside Ipswich, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to ensure the sliding hatch on the top of the machine was safe.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that mill operator/supervisor Terrence Gardiner, 61, who lived in Ipswich was believed to be attempting to retrieve an plastic jug that had fallen into the machine when the incident happened on 19 May 2009.

His workmates found Mr Gardiner lying face down on top of the mixing machine with his head and right arm trapped by the pneumatic hatch. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

H G Gladwell & Sons of Copdock Mill, Ipswich, admitted breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 11 by failing to ensure effective measures were taken to prevent access to the hatch, but this failure was not the cause of Mr Gardiner's death.

The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £20,437.40 costs

Glyn Davies, the investigating inspector at HSE, said: "There were measures the company could have put in place to prevent access to the top of the mixer, such as sufficient guarding, a remotely positioned operating switch or a grille over the sliding pneumatic hatch itself.

"They singularly failed to implement any of these straightforward protective measures. It is vital that manufacturing firms make sure that dangerous parts on their machines are identified and properly guarded. As we have seen here today, machines like these can be incredibly dangerous and no company should take these unnecessary risks."

A total 25 workers were killed and more than 4,000 suffered major injuries in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain last year. Of these, 3 workers were killed and 318 received major injuries in the East of England. Information on preventing injuries is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.


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