Firms Fined Over Barnsley Work Accident

Two companies have been fined after a factory worker in Barnsley survived being dragged through a small gap in a machine.

Compass Engineering Ltd and Kaltenbach Ltd were prosecuted after Matthew Lowe sustained horrific injuries when he was dragged through a machine for processing heavy steel beams at a factory in Barnsley in December 2008.

Judge Robert Moore, sitting at Sheffield Crown Court, said there was an "inadequate design with inadequate guarding'' on the machine.

He added: "This was a very foreseeable accident and it was only a matter of time before it, or something like it, occurred.''

He said some of the safety features on the £300,000 piece of machinery "could be regarded as the equivalent of a chocolate fireguard''.

He said the health and safety breaches were not politically correct or over-fussy, but "sustained and obvious''.

Both companies admitted one charge each of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Barnsley Magistrates' Court.

Compass Engineering was ordered to pay a £45,000 fine plus £24,000 in costs, while Kaltenbach, which commissioned and supplied the machine, was fined £30,000 with an additional £16,000 in costs.

Mr Moore said it would not be in the public interest to fine the two companies so heavily that they faced closure.

He added: "Both companies are good employers who have never been charged or prosecuted with health and safety offences before, despite very long service and are economically sound - not withstanding our present difficult times.''