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Kimberly-Clark prosecuted for factory worker's death

19-12-2011

A global manufacturer has been fined £180,000 after a worker was killed at an Andrex factory in Barrow-in-Furness.

Christopher Massey, a former Barrow Raiders rugby player, was struck by a piece of machinery while working on a night shift at the Kimberly-Clark plant on Park Road on 8 November 2007.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found a dangerous part of a machine, used to produce rolls of Andrex toilet paper, had been left unguarded.

Preston Crown Court heard the 28-year-old had been looking through a gap in the machine to make sure the tissue was being fed through correctly.

As he checked inside the machine at around 5.10am, it began to move a large, two-metre wide reel of tissue into place, striking him on the head. His body was discovered around twenty minutes later by colleagues shortly before the end of their shift.

The HSE investigation found the machine had been modified four months earlier so that reels of two-ply as well as single-ply toilet paper could be fed through it.

The part of the machine used to hold the large reels of tissue had been moved back so that another piece of machinery could be added to handle the two-ply toilet paper. This created a potentially dangerous gap which Mr Massey and other workers had used to check the tissue was being fed through correctly.

The court was told the factory had been short-staffed on the night of Mr Massey’s death, with two of the four workers in the team off sick. He was moved to work on the part of the machine that fed through the giant reels, despite not having had training on how to operate it since its modification.

Kimberly-Clark Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company, of Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, was ordered to pay £20,000 in prosecution costs in addition to the fine of £180,000 on 14 December 2011.

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