Can worker could lose lower leg after injury

A man may need to have his foot and lower leg amputated after it was crushed at work.

51-year-old David Wain, suffered serious injuries when a 1.5 tonne pallet of tin plates fell onto his right lower leg and foot when he was employed by Emballator UK Ltd at their factory in Bradford in the UK.

Mr Wain, a coating assistant at the plant which manufactures tin cans, had been told to use an older machine to turn the bulk tin plate as a fault had developed on the usual, more modern, pallet turner.

However, Bradford Magistrates’ Court heard earlier this month (1 May) Mr Wain used a forklift truck to pick up a pallet of plates.

He loaded the machine the way he had been told, wedging the load using empty pallets and switched it on.

Moments later, after the machine turned 180 degrees, he saw the plates and pallets moving.

He tried to get out of the way but the full load of metal plates spilled out of the machine (pictured) in what he described as a waterfall effect, trapping his foot against the floor.

Part of Mr Wain’s big toe was severed and the sole of his foot was split, surgeons managed to reattach the next two toes and he needed plates put into his ankle and screws into his lower leg. He was in hospital for 11 days.

The incident, which took place on 6 February 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company after identifying what it called a number of safety failings.

He had no experience of using the older machine and a colleague gave him a demonstration of how to use it and how to load the pallets for turning.

Mr Wain has been housebound since the incident and unable to walk without crutches.

He was informed earlier this year by the hospital that his foot and lower leg may need to be amputated.

HSE found Emballator UK Ltd had failed to provide both safe equipment and a safe system of work.

There was no clamping mechanism to retain the pallet of metal plates within the rotating machine, and no guarding to keep operators from the machine during turning.

In addition, the firm had not identified the risks involved with using the older machine, and in particular the risk of the plates falling out.

Mr Wain was not supervised whilst he used the machine for the first time and no checks were made that he understood the risks and the precautions to take.

Emballator UK Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the firm was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,769 in full costs.

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