Firm fined after workplace fatality

Jo Francis
Thursday, September 10, 2020

A manufacturer of industrial tape products, including social distancing and plate mounting tapes, has been fined more than £100,000 after a worker was crushed to death in a slitter-rewinder.

HSE: Scapa failed to take action to ensure the necessary guarding of the machinery
HSE: Scapa failed to take action to ensure the necessary guarding of the machinery

The incident occurred at Scapa UK’s Dunstable facility in April 2018.

Operator Brett Dolby was using a rewind slitting machine used for cutting down master rolls. He was drawn into an in-running nip between a rotating roller and the adhesive material.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) reported that Dolby’s colleagues found him trapped in the machine, “having suffered fatal crush injuries”.

HSE’s investigations found that the risk assessment for the machine was “inadequate”. It also emerged that Scapa had received advice from both the HSE and an external consultant in 2012 in relation to the guarding of machinery on site, but had “failed to take action to ensure the necessary guarding of the rewind slitting machine prior to the incident”.

“Mr Dolby was required to work close to an unguarded in-running nip whilst the rewind slitting machine was in operation, which presented a hazard due to rotating parts,” HSE stated.

“The risk assessment for the machine was inadequate because it failed to identify the in-running nips and other hazards on the machine. Therefore, machine operators were provided with inadequate information and training relating to the risks associated with this operation; and employees were placed at severe risk of injury.”

Scapa UK was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £15,192.68 after a hearing at Luton Magistrates Court. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

HSE inspector Emma Page commented: “This tragic incident could easily have been prevented if the company had properly assessed and applied effective control measures to minimise the risks from dangerous parts of the machinery.

“The dangers associated with in-running nips are well known, and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”

Scapa Group PLC is headquartered in Ashton-under-Lyne and has operations around the world. The £320.6m turnover group operates in the healthcare and industrial markets.

In a statement, the company said: “We were all deeply saddened by the tragic incident at the site and our thoughts remain with the family, friends and colleagues of Brett Dolby. We accept the Magistrates’ Court ruling and the machine was decommissioned immediately after the incident in 2018.”

The group had made a £300,000 provision in its accounts in relation to the incident.

Scapa closed its Dunstable and Luton sites last year, with core assets from Dunstable relocated to the group’s Gargrave facility.

Scapa's wide range of industrial tape products includes gaffer tape, packaging tape, paper tape and flexo plate mounting tape. The firm’s PVC and PE tapes are used for floor marking of hazards and now for social distancing.

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