A judge has fined a company £175,000 where one of its directors from Dewsbury suffered fatal injuries in a factory accident, describing the system then in operation as a “death waiting to happen.”
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC also gave the brother of the victim a suspended jail sentence following the deliberate by-passing of safety procedures.
Leeds Crown Court heard in the two weeks prior to the death of Nasir Hussain in February 2012 at the premises of Felt Supplies Ltd on the Wharfedale Business Park in Bradford, CCTV footage recorded 78 incidents such as staff “inside machinery while it was still running.”
One employee had previously had two fingers amputated after they were crushed in machinery.
Judge Marson said: “There clearly was no regard for the safety of those who were employed.”
Nasir Hussain, 36, from Dewsbury, was trying to remove a blockage in the carding section of one of the production lines with a metal bar on February 1, 2012.
Nigel Lawrence QC prosecuting for the HSE said the machine should have been switched off before he did that but Mr Hussain used a spare key to unlock one of the gates and stood on top of the machine before indicating to stop it.
As a result the machine was still operating although running down when his clothing became tangled and he was dragged into the machine suffering fatal injuries including a broken neck.
Inquiries into the accident revealed numerous safety issues such as insecure covers on electrical panels, loose and broken guarding and insufficiently high fencing. Prohibition notices were served preventing use until the problems were remedied.
He told the court Nasir Hussain and his brother Wazir each owned 50% share of the company at that time and after the death of his brother Wazir Hussain became the sole director.
Mr Lawrence said even after that death staff continued to clear blockages while machines were operational as did Wazir Hussain indicating “a widespread failure to follow safety rules.”
He added: “So bad is this case a serious accident involving death was not only foreseeable we would say it was inevitable.”
It was only after another visit on October 5, 2012, by the HSE and the further issue of notices that improvements were carried out.
Christian Du Cann told the court in mitigation that the brothers had exposed themselves to the same risks as employees “and they have paid the ultimate price.”
He said in the four years since robust safety systems had been put into operation. Hussain had been deeply affected by his brother’s death and was genuinely remorseful.
Felt Supplies Ltd admitted three Health and Safety breaches and contravening a prohibition notice. In addition to the fine they were ordered to pay £64,165 costs.
Wazir Hussain, 34 of Garden Street, Dewsbury admitted the same offences and was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
Judge Marson told him he had continued to show a flagrant disregard for the law for some months after his brother’s death and would have imposed an immediate jail term had the case been heard soon after that but he accepted improvements had been made since and the company was now a fit place to work.