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Packaging firm Smurfit Kappa could face a compensation claim after one of its employees severely injured his hands in a workplace accident.
The 25-year-old worker lost four fingers and severed parts of two others in the incident, which involved a power press machine at the Smurfit Kappa UK site in Whitehaven, Cumbria in September 2010.
Smurfit Kappa has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to provide proper training in the use of heavy machinery and not supervising the employee appropriately at the time.
The company was given a fine of £200,000 and ordered to pay £19,308 in costs after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches at Carlisle Crown Court.
HSE inspector Andrew Jewitt said the unnamed employee was "off work for ten months due to the extent of his injuries, but they will continue to affect him for the rest of his life".
He added: "The worker's injuries could have been avoided if Smurfit Kappa had made sure he and his supervisors had been properly trained."
Power press machines are able to exert a force of up to 35 tonnes to stamp out metal lids, which were in this case used at either end of cardboard tubes in whisky bottle packaging.
The court was told that the worker's supervisor had left the company four months before the accident and he was not given sufficient training on how to operate the power press safely. There was also no suitable risk assessment in place for the work.
Mr Jewitt commented: "Work accidents like this will continue to happen if employers don't take the risks seriously."
Smurfit Kappa, which employs about 41,000 people around the world, is a leading producer of paper-based packaging. The company has its world headquarters in Dublin and operates 19 paper mills in Europe.
Posted by Emily Swanson
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