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Company fined after worker suffers horrific head injuries

A West Midlands company has been fined after a worker suffered severe head injuries in a pneumatic metal press.

Wayne Hill, a maintenance engineer at H&E Knowles (Lye) Limited, was repairing the press when it unexpectedly started working and crushed his head. He was trapped for around ten minutes before colleagues were able to free him.

His nose and jaw were broken, his upper lip ripped off and he bit through his tongue. Mr Hill, 42, of Lye, Stourbridge, also sustained lacerations to the back of his head and neck, muscular damage to his left arm, severe neck pain and scratches and bruising to his left side.

He needed extensive reconstructive surgery and has been left with reduced sensitivity in his upper lip and nose, pain in his teeth and scarring to his shoulder. He underwent counselling after suffering nightmares and flashbacks.

Mr Hill was off work for nearly five months but has since returned to the company.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident, which happened at the company's Talbots Lane site in Brierley Hill, West Midlands on 18 August 2011, found the machine had a faulty interlocking guard.

Dudley and Halesowen magistrates heard the press, which takes a sheet of metal and forms it into a wheelbarrow body, should not have been able to operate if the door was open but the fault meant the machine did not detect this.

The court was also told that the machine was designed and built by the company 25 years ago. No technical drawings or any other documentation existed and an adequate risk assessment had never been carried out. The machine regularly broke down and maintenance staff were left to fix it with no instructions.

H&E Knowles (Lye) Ltd, of Waterfall Lane, Cradley Heath, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £18,000 with £7,220 costs.


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