Father of three Nazar Hussain died at food giant Nestle’s Albion Mill plant in Bailey Hall Road in December 2008 after a colleague re-started a conveyor-type machine, known as a depalletiser, unaware that Mr Hussain was inside.
During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, the court heard that Mr Hussain, 55, of Pear Street, may have gone into the depalletiser to remove a blockage as earlier in the day some large sweet tins had jammed the machine, causing the alarm to sound.
Later that day, the machine’s alarm sounded again and Mr Hussain’s co-worker, who had been covering his break, went to investigate. Being a large machine, he walked around it to check no one was inside. Seeing no one he re-started it but immediately it shuddered, stopped and the alarm re-sounded.
Mr Hussain’s crouched body was discovered inside the machine. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The HSE investigation found that a safety key device to halt the machine was available but Nestle failed to ensure its employees were aware of its purpose and how to use it correctly.
HSE said the company’s safety breaches were compounded by the fact Nestle had received written advice about improving guarding on a palletiser back in 2002 but had not applied that advice to the machine operated by Mr Hussain.
Nestle UK Ltd, of St George’s House, Croydon, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined Â£180,000 and ordered to pay Â£41,826.33 in costs.
Mr Hussain’s daughter, Sameena, spoke of her family’s loss in a victim impact statement to court. She said:
“The death of my father came as a complete shock and my mother has been left in pieces by his death. She grieves to this day and still asks questions as to how and why it happened.
“My father was well thought of in the community and helped his family and friends. Not only did he provide for the immediate family, but also his mother and family in Pakistan.
“Our lives have undergone a complete change, and for that we blame Nestle for not having the proper fail-safes in place to stop something like this occurring.”
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jackie Ferguson said:
“This was a terrible tragedy that could have been so easily avoided. Nestle failed to ensure robust systems were in place to control safe entry into the depalletiser and prevent the machine being re-started whilst someone was in the danger zone.
“A family has been left without a father and a provider due to Nestle’s inexcusable negligence. If anything positive is to come out of this terrible incident it is that other firms take note.
“Companies should be aware HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall so far below the required standards.”
There were five deaths and more than 550 major injuries in the manufacturing sector in Yorkshire & the Humber according to the latest 2010/11 HSE statistics. A further 1,900 less severe injuries were also recorded.
In the last five years there have been 44 serious accidents, including a previous fatality, and two dangerous occurrences involving palletisers and depalletisers, six of which resulted in prosecution.