A company that produces nickel alloys has been fined after an employee suffered life-threatening injuries when he was crushed and burned by falling machinery.
Stephen Bond-Lewis, aged 37, of Hereford, was removing waste material from a metal casting machine at Special Metals Wiggin Ltd when part of it became detached, fell forward and pinned him against a nearby storage bin.
The falling machinery weighed 964kg and had a temperature of between 100 and 250°C.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Special Metals Wiggin Ltd after an investigation found the method used to remove ingot moulds from the casting machine was unsafe.
Worcester Crown Court heard that it involved using overhead cranes to pull the moulds free, which damaged the bolts and their fixing points. This coupled with the company’s failure to have a proper maintenance programme in place led to the mechanical failure of the machine.
An examination by HSE inspectors of 32 other casting machines in the same part of the factory found faults in every one.
Mr Bond-Lewis, who has two young sons and twin baby daughters, will need medication for the rest of his life and suffers stomach disorders, which restrict the foods he can eat, his physical activities and his social life. He can no longer play sports or the rough and tumble games other fathers can.
He has not been able to return to work since the incident.
Special Metals Wiggin Ltd, of Wiggin Works, Holmer Road, Hereford, was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £55,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Mr Bond-Lewis, who was in the Royal Navy for 12 years before joining Special Metals Wiggin Ltd, said: “This was the worst thing that could have happened to me. I used to really enjoy sport, particularly football, but I can’t play any more.
“All of a sudden basic everyday jobs around the house aren’t basic any more. I struggle to mow the lawn and can’t lift anything heavy.
“It has taken me a long time to come to terms with what has happened and the impact it’s had on me and the rest of the family, my wife in particular, but I have had a lot of help psychologically and I’m beginning to think about going back to work.
“At the moment I don’t know what that will be as I’ll never be able to do a manual job again, but I’ll just be glad to be back working.”
If you have suffered an injury at work call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444