Firm fined £115,000 after worker’s hand was cut off in machine


A man’s hand was cut off while he was repairing a factory machine. Christopher Wright, 59, from Oswestry in Shropshire, had his hand cut off at the wrist when he was caught in the chain drive of a box-making machine while working a factory in Wrexham.


His hand was reattached during an 11-hour operation but Mr Wright has been left with lifelong effects.


He said: “It’s impacted on everything I do every day. I can’t go back to being an engineer, and I can’t go back as an engineering manager as I can only type with one finger. I’m on the sick now. The effects are life changing, I’m in pain all the time, it hurts whenever I touch something. It’s not something that gets better. I can’t dress myself properly, I can’t do up zips or tie my shoelaces.


“My wife has had to finish work just to look after me. I have a three-year-old granddaughter now and I can’t even pick her up to give her a cuddle. Motorbiking was one of my greatest loves. I used to love riding my motorbike and I’ve had to sell it.”


Mr Wright was repairing the machine when his hand became caught. “It all happened very quickly. I just thought ‘my hand has gone’. I grabbed my wrist and shouted for help and dropped to the floor”, he said.


Riftward Limited, trading as Playford Packaging, which employed Christopher, was fined £115,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.


The HSE’s investigation discovered the company’s risk assessment was neither suitable nor sufficient as it had not considered the risks created from use of the machine, including during maintenance activities. There was no safe system of work in place to ensure safe isolation and access for tasks such as maintenance.


It also found it was common practice to bypass a gate that kept people and the machine separated, and to stand within the fenced area whilst the machine was in operation, demonstrating a lack of adequate supervision. Employees hadn’t received any instruction for the safe isolation of the machine.


Riftward Packaging, of Ash Road, Wrexham Industrial Estate, Wrexham pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £115,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,308 and a victim surcharge of £190 at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court.


Speaking after the case HSE inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones said “Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in that safe system of working.


“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing

injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”


HSE September 2022

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