Firms prosecuted after worker loses left leg in workplace accident

Two firms have been heavily fined by the criminal courts after a worker lost one of his legs in a workplace accident because of health and safety breaches.

Delpro Limited, a company that designs and assembles equipment for the packaging and printing industries, and Russell Fabrications (UK) Limited, the worker’s employer, were ordered to pay nearly £50,000 in costs and fines after Mr Vincent Sutton lost his left leg in the workplace accident on 5 January 2012.

On the day in question Mr Sutton, 49, was delivering a 5-metre-long rectangular frame that had been manufactured by his employer to Delpro Limited on the Brookfield Industrial Estate in Glossop. The frame, known as a skid, had been loaded onto a pickup truck at an angle, using an overhead crane and chains.

When the frame arrived at the Delpro plan, workers lifted it off using the same chains, although this time a forklift truck was used to move the frame. However, as the forklift truck picked up the frame the chains shifted, causing the frame to fall six feet to the ground and landing on Mr Sutton’s left foot.

Mr Sutton was rushed to hospital but the damage to his foot was so severe that surgeons had to amputate his leg above the knee for medical reasons. It is unclear as to how long Mr Sutton was off work for and whether he has returned to work at all since the injury. However, he has sustained a permanent disability as a result of the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) was notified of the accident and subsequently investigated. This investigation found that neither company had properly planned how they were going to lift the heavy metal frame on to and off of the pickup truck, nor had they ensured that the truck and the lifting equipment were suitable for the job. The investigation also found that Russell Fabrications (UK) Limited had failed to make adequate arrangements for the frame to be transported safely to the Delpro plant. The HSE investigators therefore recommended that both companies be prosecuted for these health and safety breaches.

The case came to the Derby Crown Court on 27 February 2015, with Delpro Limited pleading guilty to a single breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It was as a result fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £8,375 towards the costs of the prosecution.

Russell Fabrications (UK) Limited was fined £11,917 and ordered to pay a contribution of £13,374 to the costs of the prosecution after it was found guilty of a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following a trial.

Marc Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Businesses have an obligation to implement health and safety legislation so as to prevent harm to the health, safety or welfare of their employees. In this instance the Crown Court found that both companies had failed to uphold the necessary standards and they were therefore fined and ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution.”hse