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Waste firm fined £90k for worker's severed arm

The court heard the worker's arm was pulled off by a conveyor belt. Credit: PA

An experienced worker had his right forearm pulled off by a conveyor belt as he was trying to clean it, a court heard today.

Stephen John, 57, of Baglan Moors, Port Talbot, was working for Neath Port Talbot Recycling Ltd in Swansea when the incident happened in 2011.

Swansea Crown Court fined the company a total of £90,000 and ordered it to pay £50,000 in costs in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

The court heard that Mr John was asked to clean a conveyor which had become blocked with a sticky black substance. The company did not have any safe system of work for completing this task, and experienced employees like Mr John had developed their own way of cleaning the conveyor belt roller.

To clean the rollers, one employee stood by the control switch, which is out of sight from the conveyor, and a second person inserted a bar and scraped the flack from the roller. He then inserted his arm to wipe away the flack.

On the day of the incident, Mr John inserted his arm and was wiping the flack away. He then passed the bar to a work colleague. The switch controller misinterpreted this as a signal and started the conveyor. Mr John's right forearm was trapped and amputated by the conveyor belt."