Metal recycling company fined £200,000 after employee’s arm severed


Catalytic converter

A scrap metal recycling company in Essex has been fined £200,000 after an employee’s arm was severed when it became entangled in a catalytic converter sampling machine.

Elena Troia, 34, was working for F.J. Church and Sons at its recycling facility in Rainham, Essex, on 12 June 2021 when she passed her hand through an unguarded rotary valve to remove a blockage. The valve closed, trapping and severing the 34-year-old’s right arm.

Troia’s right arm was later amputated as a result of the incident and she has been unable to work since. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that F.J. Church and Sons failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, namely the rotating parts of a rotary valve inside the sampling machine.

HSE guidance states employers must take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

F.J. Church and Sons pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £5,125.37 in costs at Stratford Magistrates’ Court on 5 March 2024.

HSE inspector Marcus Pope commented: “Every year, a significant proportion of accidents, many of them serious and sometimes fatal, occur as a result of poorly guarded work equipment.

“In this case, this was a wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure to guard dangerous parts. Had the company added suitable guarding to the outlet of the machine, this life-changing injury would not have occurred.”

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