Metal Recycling Company Fined £200,000 After Employee’s Arm Severed

A scrap metal recycling firm in Essex has been fined £200,000 following an incident where an employee’s arm was severed after becoming entangled in a catalytic converter sampling machine.

The incident occurred on June 12, 2021, at F.J. Church and Sons Ltd’s recycling facility in Rainham, Essex. Elena Troia, a 34-year-old employee, was attempting to clear a blockage by reaching her hand through an unguarded rotary valve when the valve closed, trapping and severing her right arm. Subsequently, Ms. Troia’s right arm had to be amputated, rendering her unable to work.

An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that F.J. Church and Sons failed to implement adequate measures to prevent access to hazardous machinery parts, specifically the rotating components of the rotary valve within the sampling machine.

According to HSE guidelines, employers are obligated to adopt effective measures preventing access to dangerous machinery parts, typically achieved through fixed guarding. In cases where routine access is necessary, interlocked guards, sometimes equipped with guard locking mechanisms, should be in place to halt the movement of dangerous parts before an individual can reach the danger zone.

F.J. Church and Sons Ltd, located at Centenary Works, Manor Way, Rainham, Essex, pleaded guilty to violating Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company received a fine of £200,000 and was directed to pay £5,125.37 in costs at the Stratford Magistrates’ Court on March 5, 2024.

HSE inspector Marcus Pope commented, “Every year, a significant number of accidents, many severe and sometimes fatal, occur due to inadequately guarded work equipment. In this case, the incident was entirely avoidable, resulting from the failure to safeguard dangerous parts. Had the company implemented suitable guarding at the machine’s outlet, this life-altering injury could have been prevented.”

The HSE prosecution was led by enforcement lawyer Jon Mack and paralegal officer Lucy Gallagher.