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Company Fined £120K After Man Paralysed By Work Accident

December 7, 2010

A paper company has been fined £120,000 after a worker was left paralysed from the chest down in an incident at work.

Christopher Shaw, from Eastham, Wirral, was crushed beneath a two-tonne reel of paper in the accident at SCA Hygiene in Oakenholt, near Flint.

The company admitted breaching health and safety rules and failing to provide a safe system of work.

SCA Hygiene was also ordered to pay £18,514 costs by Judge John Rogers QC at Mold Crown Court.

The Health and Safety Executive had prosecuted the firm after an investigation.

The court heard that a dangerous practice took place where the heavy reels were moved by workers using their shoulders at the end of the production line.

The dangers had been highlighted repeatedly within the factory as a health and safety concern, but nothing had been done about it, Judge Rogers said.

Assistant winder Mr Shaw is now a paraplegic following the spinal fractures he suffered on 29 July, 2007, and has no movement below his chest and only limited movement in his arms.

Judge Rogers said: “Mr Shaw suffered horrific injuries in the course of his employment by the defendants at their Oakenholt paper mill and the effect of those injuries has been to render him paraplegic.

“In very simple terms this accident occurred when he was attempting to control and slow the descent of a two-tonne reel of paper from the table to the floor with his shoulder.

“There was water on the floor and it may be the water caused him to slip and the reel moved on and crushed him.

“He was following a system of work deemed safe by the defendants – it was not so.

“The defendants now acknowledge it was not and, as a result, plead guilty to not ensuring the safety of Mr Shaw.”

Safety issue

Simon Parrington, prosecuting, said company minutes showed that on five occasions between November 2006 until 10 days before Mr Shaw’s accident, concerns had been raised about manual handling of paper reels.

On each occasion a risk assessment had been called for.

On three other occasions, the safety issue had been logged and the shift manager informed, said Mr Parrington.

Richard Matthews, for the company, said: “The company recognises the appalling injuries, the life changing injuries to this man, which are the worst aspect of this, and nothing I can say in terms of expressing genuine regret to everyone, can change anything.

“But that regret is felt throughout the company.”

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