Polyflor fined after worker dragged into machine

The flooring manufacturer has been found guilty of safety failings after an employee was dragged into an unguarded machine at its factory in Whitefield, Bury.

Polyflor was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive following the incident at its plant in Radcliffe New Road on 17 May 2011.

During a four-day trial at Manchester Crown Court, the jury heard that the male worker, who asked not to be named, was working on a nightshift when a conveyor belt became jammed.
Maintenance workers were unable to repair the fault and guards from the machine were removed so that it could continue to operate. The injured worker was using a spanner to try to stop the belt rubbing when he was pulled into the machine.

The 43-year-old from Sale had to be cut free and suffered a broken arm. He needed seven weeks off work to recover.

Polyflor, of Hollinhurst Road in Radcliffe, was this week found guilty of a breach of the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for failing to ensure routine maintenance work could be carried out safely on the machine.

The company, which manufactures flooring for offices, sports centres and schools, was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £34,000 in prosecution costs.

Emily Osborne, HSE Inspector, said: "The Polyflor employee was lucky to escape with a broken arm. His injuries could have been much worse.

"The company should never have allowed workers to be put at risk by letting them carry out maintenance work to the machine while it was still operating.

"It has since installed a new safety system on the conveyor belt which makes it impossible for it to be run when the guards have been removed."

No one was immediately available from Polyflor to comment.

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