Kent-based Kingsnorth Waste Management has been fined £7,000 after pleading guilty to safety failings following an incident where a worker’s jaw was shattered by a piece of plastic pipe ejected from a bandsaw.
The worker, who did not wish to be named, was cutting down the old gas pipe for recycling at the compan’s site in Hoo, Rochester in August 2010 when the incident happened. The pipe was around 50cm long, 30cm in diameter and 2cm thick.
As he fed the pipe into the bandsaw, the teeth of the blade stuck into the plastic, rotated it round the domed end and ejected it. The piece was thrown out at high speed and struck him in his throat and under his chin. It broke both upper and lower jaw bones and burst his jaw hinges.
The HSE said that the worker’s jaw was shattered into “pieces of cornflakes” by the impact.
The court heard the worker had undergone a number of operations, including a bone graft from his hip, over the past four years to reconstruct his jaw. He still suffers from pain caused by irreparable nerve damage, and has problems eating.
Early in its investigation, HSE identified that after the incident there had been two further instances of plastic pipe being ejected as it was being sawn and striking the operators, including one where the worker was a 16-year-old trainee. As a result, a prohibition notice was served on Kingsnorth Waste Management preventing any further use of the bandsaws for cutting this sort of material.
Kingsnorth was also ordered to pay £3,000 in costs after admitting breaking the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE Inspector Gordon Chase said: “Waste processing and recycling is a high-risk industry which has a disproportionately large share of fatal and serious injuries. Both individual companies and the industry collectively, must improve the way that health and safety, both of employees and the public, is managed.”