An employee working on a laminator producing absorbent pads for meat packaging was severely injured when he was pulled into the machine by giant rollers.

The worker who had been working for Elliott Absorbent Products Ltd, based in Deansgate in Manchester suffered severe friction burns to his arms, chest and stomach and will now undergo skin grafts to both his arms to rebuild on the damaged areas.

The incident may have been prevented if the Infa red sensors, which were designed to halt operation when someone approached the rollers had not been swithched off. The company which supplies major supermarket chains across Europe, had shut off the sensor because paper dust generated by the machine had been triggering it.

Elliott Absorbent Products Ltd, of Deansgate in Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was ordered to pay costs of £4,389 in addition to the fine at Manchester Crown Court on 7 January.

Sarah Taylor, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:
“Sadly a worker has suffered permanent scarring because Elliotts didn’t do enough to look after the safety of its workers.

“The three enforcement notices HSE served following a visit to the company’s Rochdale factory in 2008 should have acted as a wake-up call to check the guards on all its machines.

“But the infra-red sensor on the machine at the company’s Littleborough factory was disabled without considering why it was there in the first place – to prevent workers being injured.”