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An employee who was injured in an almost fatal fall accident at work could sue his employer for compensation. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was working at NTG, a paper mill near Lancaster; when the accident happened.
Magistrates at a local court heard the 39-year-old man was helping to hose down dirty machinery as part of a two-week shutdown due to take place at the factory over the summer when he stepped on a raised walkway.
A piece of metal grating underneath the man gave way and his arm and jaw smashed against the floor. Luckily, he managed to grab hold of some debris and avoided plunging six metres to the ground, which could easily have resulted in a fatal accident.
After being rushed to the hospital it emerged the employee only suffered relatively minor injuries, including widespread bruising and severe friction burns.
A subsequent Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed NTG did not have an adequate inspection and maintenance system for the raised walkways; despite the area being prone to humidity and, consequently, dangerous rusting.
NTG was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,866 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Banks said: "The employee at NTG was lucky he was able to grab onto the mezzanine floor as he fell. If he had fallen all the way to the concrete below then he could have been killed.
"The incident happened in a very humid area of the factory and the company should have done more to make sure metal grates which make up the walkway didn't become unsafe."
Mr Banks also criticised manufacturers who wait for employees to be injured before taking corrective action; highlighting the importance of maintenance and risk assessment procedures in the industry.
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