Firm must pay £94k after man's legs crushed

A SCRAP metal company was fined £60,000 yesterday after a Pontypool man lost both legs in “horrific” accident that saw the doors of 16-tonne bailing machine close on him.

The Health and Safety Executive, prosecuting, told a court the man, named by the court as Piotr Sarna, 42, who is now living in Pontypool, made a desperate attempt to escape but the force of the jaws hit his legs as he scrambled away.

It said one of his legs was severed and the other was amputated after being severely crushed.

The worker spent six months in hospital and is expected to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, the HSE added.

The watchdog found the scrap metal company H Ripley & Co had completely neglected to consider risks to operate the machine, which had been bought second hand and fire damaged.

It also found the remote control, built by co-defendant John Platt, of Thakeham, West Sussex, was seriously flawed.

H Ripley & Co., of North Street, Hailsham, West Sussex, was fined £60,000 at Lewes Crown Court and ordered to pay £34,633 in full costs after admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

John Platt, of John Platt Services, was fined £10,000 with £5,000 to pay towards costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 6(1) of the same act.

After the court hearing, HSE Inspector Stephen Green said in an official statement: “This was a horrific incident in which a worker suffered the loss of both legs, endured a sixth-month period in hospital and who will now spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

“It was also entirely preventable, H Ripley & Co had completely neglected to consider the risks and identify control measures needed to operate the machine safely.

“It had failed to ensure that there was a system to isolate the machine from power before anyone could get inside.”

Company director Jason Ripley, 46, told the Argus yesterday: “We are very sorry for Piotr Sarna’s tragic accident. H. Ripley & Co Ltd has cooperated fully with the investigation.

“H. Ripley & Co is committed to ensuring the highest standards of safety and will continue to operate to these highest standards.”

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