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DS Smith fined £400,000 after worker death

Packaging and recycling firm DS Smith has been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £34,760 in costs following the death of a worker who became trapped in unguarded machinery.

The firm’s operations manager suffered fatal injuries at Higher Kings paper mill in Devon in September 2011 when he was pulled into machinery after climbing onto a work platform to attempt to smooth felt on a conveyor.

The company pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 at Exeter Crown Court after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation.

The investigation found the company had failed to place any guard around the belt and did not have a suitable risk assessment for work which needed to be carried out to find the cause of creases, and for working on the gantry.

HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Potentially dangerous machinery should always be guarded and turned off when workers need access to repair faults.

“A proper risk assessment would have highlighted these dangers and established safe practices for staff instead of putting their lives at risk.”

DS Smith group human resources director Nigel Hayter said after the hearing: “Today marks the conclusion of a long and thorough investigation process.

“We shall always regret the loss of a valued colleague and our commitment to safe operation across our business in 2015 is stronger than ever.”

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