A textile manufacturing company based in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and one of its directors have been sentenced after the company’s 36-year-old managing director was fatally injured.
A carding machine that formed part of Felt Suppliers’ production line had become blocked with waste on 1 February 2012. The carding process disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web for onward processing.
Nasir Hussain tried to fix the problem by overriding the safety system. He unlocked one of the gates with a spare key, climbed on top of the machine and used a metal bar to clear the blockage.
Leeds Crown Court was told that the carding machine was switched off at the time but was still running down. Hussain’s clothing became caught and he was pulled into the machine and died.
The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation revealed the company’s workforce often used a spare key to access machinery while it was still operational and it was “custom and practice” for them to clear jams this way.
Though the HSE took possession of the spare keys and served a prohibition notice on Felt Suppliers, it found unsafe practices continued at the company for some time after the accident happened, with the knowledge and consent of company director Wazir Hussain – the victim’s brother.
Felt Suppliers pleaded guilty to breaching ss 2(1) and 22(2) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act. It was fined £175,000 with £64,165 costs.
Wazir Hussain pleaded guilty to the same offences and was handed a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Jacqueline Ferguson said: “In this case it was the director that was fatally injured and it could so easily have been an employee, in which case we may have been looking at a corporate manslaughter charge."