Manufacturer fined £250K for ‘serious and avoidable’ incidents

A bedding manufacturer has been prosecuted and fined £250,000 after two of its employees were badly injured in “serious and avoidable” incidents at work.

A bedding manufacturer has been fined £250k after safety failings led to serious and avoidable injuries

Sartex Quilts and Textiles Limited were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following separate serious incidents at its site in Rochdale in March 2020 and October 2021, which both resulted in workers having to undergo amputations.

The firm appeared at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court earlier this month where they pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws in relation to the incidents.

Serious incident fails to prompt safety changes

The court heard how the first incident took place on 29th March 2020.

A 32-year-old employee from Burnley was experiencing his first day working on the line when he was instructed to clean the measuring wheel on a cutting machine. He climbed onto the conveyer belt but the cutting machine had not been properly isolated from all sources of power and its clamp came down, trapping the worker’s left hand and causing the circular saw to move.

Another employee pressed the emergency stop button, stopping the saw, but this was too late to save the worker from losing three fingers, which had to be amputated from his left hand.

The worker read out a victim personal statement in court in which he described himself as a “healthy, happy and active person,” prior to the incident.

Now a father of two young children, he said: “I try not to expose my left hand too much to my children when I am playing with them or when they are in my company. I do not talk about the incident with my children. When I am out and about in public, I try to keep my injured hand out of the public view.”

The seriousness of the incident did not improve machine safety at Sartex Quilts and Textiles, as another employee was injured while operating a quilting machine on 22nd October 2021.

The 51-year-old worker from Rochdale was attempting to place a fallen casing on to the back of the machine while it was in operation. His gloves became entangled in the machine, which caused his right hand to be dragged into it. This resulted in him suffering lacerations and crush injuries to his right hand and the tips of two of his fingers had to be amputated.

Firm failed to adhere to safety guidance and legislation

The HSE inspectors who investigated the incidents – Leanne Ratcliffe and Elena Pickford – found that the company did not guard their machinery and did not implement suitable and sufficient procedures to isolate machinery from power.

The bedding manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety lawThis is despite the fact that HSE guidance for equipment and machinery states that machines should be properly switched off, isolated or locked before workers take any action to remove blockages, clean or make adjustments.

Machines should also be fitted with fixed guards to enclose dangerous parts, whenever practical.

Sartex Quilts and Textiles Limited pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

They were ordered to pay prosecution costs of £6,862.63 in addition to their significant £250,000 fine.

Commenting on the case, HSE Inspector Elena Pickford said the injuries sustained by the bedding manufacturer’s employees were “serious and avoidable,” and that “the risk should have been identified.”

She added:

“Employers should make sure they properly assess and ensure that access to dangerous parts of machinery are prevented. Had these machines been adequately guarded and a safe isolating procedure been in place, these incidents could have easily been prevented.”

Training is vital for worker safety

First Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.

They deliver a wide and diverse range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors and throughout the UK. Their course range includes training in the fields of health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingmental healthfood safetyhealth and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. The portfolio includes courses such as Health and Safety, Managing Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Accident and Incident Investigation, and many more.

Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a healthy and safe environment at work.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“Health and safety law is there to keep people healthy, safe and protected from harm as they carry out their work; this is the least that any employee should expect.

“It is important to ensure that you are up to date and well informed about health and safety legislation, guidance and best practice and that you have carried out suitable and sufficient risk assessments to identify hazards and risks in your workplace, and implemented suitable control measures to remove or reduce those risks. All risk assessments and associated control measures should be regularly reviewed to ensure they continue to protect people.

“This may sound simple, it may even sound boring or repetitive, but it is what keeps people safe and prevents life-altering incidents like this from occurring.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail