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Paper manufacturer fined over ‘avoidable’ accident

A paper manufacturer has been fined £120,000 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over a breach of rules in which an employee lost part of a finger in an ‘avoidable’ accident.

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Accrol Papers, owned by Accrol Group Holdings, of Roman Road, Blackburn

Soft tissue and paper manufacturer Accrol Papers, owned by Accrol Group Holdings, of Roman Road, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to the offence at Manchester Magistrates Court in January after a man aged 22 had part of his finger severed in May 2016.

The paper manufacturer was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,326.40 because the danger of an accident had been brought to the attention of the management but had not been acted upon. The man lost the top of his right index finger when he touched a moving blade as he fed paper between rollers in the factory. It was discovered that it was possible for a worker to place one hand on the perforating blade, whilst pressing a button to move the rollers with the other, thus exposing themselves to extreme danger as safety threading belts were missing.

HSE inspector Leona Cameron says: “After the incident, the company moved the controls for the machine so that operators could not reach the blade when the machine was moving. Had this been done beforehand then the injury could have been avoided. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”.

Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards

The Health and Safety Executive wanted a fine of more than half a million pounds but because the firm had come clean and pleaded guilty and changed practices, the fine was much lower.

Established in 1993, Accrol Papers Ltd is one of Europe’s largest independent soft tissue converters with manufacturing capacity in excess of over 100,000 tonnes per annum. In 2017 the firm had financial problems and made 89 workers redundant and had crisis talks with the banks.

The Government’ HSE records that 144 workers were killed at work in 2015/16 with 621,000 estimated non-fatal injuries to workers according to self-reports from the Labour Force Survey in 2015/16. There were 72,702 employee non-fatal injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR in 2015/16 and 4.5million estimated working days were lost due to nonfatal workplace injuries according to self-reports from the Labour Force Survey in 2015/16.



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