Two firms have pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety rules after a worker miraculously survived being dragged through a gap in a machine no wider than a CD case.

Matthew Lowe, now aged 25, suffered horrific injuries when he was dragged through the machine for processing heavy steel beams at a factory in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

He broke his back in two places, ruptured his stomach and bowel, shattered his pelvis and fractured both hips, several ribs and his right arm when his body was hauled through the five-inch gap.

Mr Lowe had only been using the machine for several days and was still learning how to use it when the accident happened.

Following the incident he returned to work and retrained in a different role.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into Compass Engineering Ltd and Kaltenbach Ltd found that there was no guarding in place to protect the worker from dangerous moving parts on the machine, which was as big as several tennis courts.

The court was told there was a history of serious accidents on this type of machine at different factories.

Mr Chambers said Mr Lowe was possibly saved from death by his smaller frame.