A Gateshead steel firm has been fined a total of £40,000 after a worker’s feet were crushed in a rolling mill.
Alan Dixon, 62, from Gateshead, was part of a team carrying out routine maintenance at Spartan UK Ltd’s site in the Teams area of the town.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution after investigating the incident which took place on 28 August 2009.
Gateshead Magistrates heard the maintenance team was removing large mill rollers used to reduce the thickness of slabs of steel at very high temperatures to make them into flat plates.
The rollers were removed weekly to be cleaned. This involved Mr Dixon standing on the outgoing side of the mill with his feet in between several hot conveyor rollers in order to attach a hydraulic ram to aid the removal of the rollers.
However, on this occasion a co-worker in the control room was unaware Mr Dixon was standing on the mill and activated hydraulic side arms used to position steel plates through the mill rollers.
Before he could escape, one of the sidearms moved inwards crushing Mr Dixon’s right foot and part of his left foot against the conveyor rollers.
Unable to place his crushed feet on the hot conveyor rollers, Mr Dixon grabbed on to the mill and in doing so, received burns to his forearms.
He was rushed to Queen Elizabeth hospital, but surgeons had to amputate his right leg below the knee. He is still undergoing treatment to repair his left heel and may need a future operation to relieve pain. It is unlikely he will be able to work again.
Spartan UK Ltd, of Ropery Road, Teams, Gateshead was fined a total of £40,000 and ordered to pay £9,757.99 in costs after it pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and a breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
After the case, HSE Inspector Jonathan Wills, said:
“Alan Dixon suffered extremely painful and permanent leg injuries because Spartan UK Ltd failed to ensure dangerous parts of the mill could not be activated while workers were carrying out maintenance work in those areas.
“The rolls were removed almost every weekend, yet the company failed to assess the risks associated with the process, and failed to provide instructions on how it should be done safely.
“Spartan UK Ltd also failed to take adequate measures to ensure workers were protected from the intense heat radiating from the hot conveyor rollers on which the maintenance team had to stand.
“Simple and inexpensive measures would have prevented this incident from occurring. All workers involved in the process could have had individual keys to be inserted before the mill could be restarted.”