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A maintenance company has been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly £9,000 after one of its workers fractured bones in his left foot when he fell 7 metres into a pulping machine.

Manchester Crown Court heard how an employee of Valmet Ltd was instructed to carry out maintenance work on one of a paper mill’s pulping machines. He was working on a drive shaft, tightening bolts with a torque wrench when the wrench slipped from the bolt causing him to lose his balance. He fell off an unprotected ledge and through a rubber flap into the paper pulping machine which contained 2.5 metres of water. After his 7 metre fall, he managed to swim, in complete darkness, to ledge where he managed to hold on and call for help.

It turns out that the company which had provided all of the machinery at the mill had performed a brief risk assessment, but had failed to recognise the potential danger of a fall from height. The court also heard how the company had recently been fined for their role in another accident where two employees had been killed.

Valmet Ltd, of Laneside Foundry, Lancashire, were found guilty of breaches to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

After the hearing Adam McMahon, the HSE Inspector on the case, said: “A supervisor had to carry out numerous risk assessments on the day of the incident along with covering others’ duties. The hazard of working at height was not identified and as such a worker was exposed to a serious risk which could have resulted in death. It was pure luck that the pulper blades were not working or that the injured person did not drown. Risk assessments are the foundation for the effective control of risks. Time should be afforded to those who are required to complete them to ensure the hazards are identified and risks are controlled in order to safeguard workers.”

If you or someone you care for has suffered from an accident at work; whether it was a slip, a fall from height, or any other kind of industrial or work-place accident, you could well be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Our expert solicitors have years of experience in handling these types of cases and as such are best placed to advise you as to the right course of action. Contact us today for a no-obligation discussion about your case, and see how we can get you the compensation you deserve.