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Factory fined £40,000 after 300kg foam bale breaks worker’s leg

A Lancashire factory, which makes carpet underlay, has been fined £40,000 after a worker was badly injured when he was struck by a 300kg bale of foam.

The 59-year-old from Todmorden, who has asked not to be named, broke his left leg in two places and suffered damage to his knee as a result of the incident at Interfloor Ltd in Haslingden, Rossendale, on 4th December 2013.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found it had become standard practice for heavy bales to be stacked up to four levels high, with no measures to prevent them falling and injuring workers below.

Preston Crown Court was told that Interfloor buys waste from car seat and furniture manufacturers, which is then processed and used to produce underlay.

As the worker was labelling the bales in the storage area, a 300kg bale from the third level up fell and hit him on the back, knocking him down face-first onto the concrete floor.

He was in hospital for a week and was off work for several months as a result of his injuries.

The company has now changed its procedures so that workers are no longer required to label bales in the storage area. Instead their locations are simply marked on a whiteboard on the factory wall.

Interfloor Ltd, of Broadway in Haslingden, was also ordered to pay £7,200 in prosecution costs after admitting to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 4th February 2015.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said: “A worker was very badly injured and off work for several months as a result of the incident but the impact of being struck by a 300kg bale could easily have been fatal.

“The company knew there was a risk of workers being injured by falling bales but it did nothing to stop this from happening. It was only after the incident that it put in place simple measures to prevent access to the storage area.

“It’s vital that manufacturers act to tackle dangers rather than waiting for an employee to be injured before doing anything practical.”

PM Law solicitors in Sheffield is a leading personal injury firm which has provided a first rate service to injured victims of non-fault accidents for more than 20 yearsClick here for more information.

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