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Paper disposables manufacturer fined for safety failings

* HSE v UPP.jpgA paper products manufacturer has been prosecuted for putting employees at risk with dangerous machines at its Hitchin, Herts, production site.

The Health and Safety Executive identified multiple defects at United Paper Products, on Bury Mead Road, Hitchin, during a visit in February 2010.

Stevenage Magistrates' Court heard on Monday that inspectors found at least four machines used to produce paper napkins and kitchen roll presented an immediate danger to operatives.

Magistrates were told that guards and emergency stops had been disabled and the company had failed to take effective measures to restrict access to dangerous moving parts, including cutting blades.

Although no incidents could be directly attributed to the safety failings, HSE inspectors noted two reports of employees sustaining serious injuries as they attempted to clean or clear a napkin maker.

United Paper Products, based at United House, Arkwright Road Industrial Estate, Bedford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £2,625.90 in costs as well as a £15 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Graham Tompkins said:

"The interlocks on several machines were deliberately disabled by bypassing the machines control system. This is extremely dangerous practice that could have resulted in employees losing fingers on the cutting blades.

"Guards and safety systems are there for a reason, and employers like United Paper Products have a legal duty of care to ensure they are fit for purpose and working effectively at all times."


19th July 2012

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