Kelly Nield was sorting clothes hangers on a conveyor and as she bent over to remove the amassed hangers, her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt.
She suffered serious throat injuries, lost a considerable amount of her hair and fractured a finger in the incident which occurred on 11 April 2009.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and prosecuted the company for serious failings at Mold Crown Court.
Coat hanger maker Mainetti UK admitted four health and safety charges at its plant in Deeside Industrial Park, after HSE discovered that the firm had fitted a guard to the conveyor but it did not fully enclose the dangerous moving parts. It was also revealed that there was no emergency stop button on the conveyor, which could have lessened the impact of the incident.
Furthermore, Mainetti’s risk assessment failed to identify the dangers of entanglement in conveyors, and the need to keep hair and loose clothing secure when near the machinery was not enforced adequately enough.
The company was fined a total of £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,668 after pleading guilty to breaching three regulations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and one breach under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health at Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector, David Wynne, said:
“These horrific, life-changing injuries sustained by Ms Nield could easily have been avoided if the right safeguarding measures had been taken by Mainetti (UK) Ltd.
“There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts.
“It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.
“Employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with this sort of equipment.”