Metal recycling firm fined £200,000 after worker’s arm had to be amputated

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A scrap metal recycling firm has been fined £200,000 after an employee’s arm became entangled in a catalytic sampling machine and later had to be amputated.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its investigation found that Essex-based F.J Church and Sons had failed to prevent access to the rotating parts of a rotary valve inside the sampling machine.

The incident happened on 12 June 2021 when 34-year-old Elena Troia was working at the company’s recycling facility in Rainham, Essex. Troia put her hand through an unguarded rotary valve to remove a blockage and the valve closed, trapping and severing her right arm. Her arm later had to be amputated and she has been unable to work since.

HSE inspector Marcus Pope: "This was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure to guard dangerous parts." Photograph: HSE

Employers must take “effective measures” to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, according to HSE guidance. Such measures include installing fixed guarding at the access point, or interlocked guards to prevent the parts from moving before a person can reach them.

“Every year, a significant proportion of accidents – many of them serious and sometimes fatal – occur as a result of poorly-guarded work equipment. In this case, this was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure to guard dangerous parts,” said HSE inspector Marcus Pope. “Had the company added suitable guarding to the outlet of the machine, this life-changing injury would not have occurred.”

F.J Church and Sons, of Centenary Works, Manor Way, Rainham, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £5,125.37 in costs at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on 5 March.  


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