A Rochdale-based bedding firm has been fined £50,000 after inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the majority of its machines were unsafe to use.
Sartex Quilts and Textiles Ltd, which owns the Maison Le Vie and Night Comfort brands, were visited over a two day period in October 2011 when HSE inspectors found dozens of missing or inadequate guards on machines.
Inspectors found that one machine, used to compact bales of quilt, had been wrapped with pieces of cardboard as the only way of protecting workers from the dangerous moving parts inside.
In addition, a loose board had been placed over a large electric motor and pulley system on another machine, and guards were generally found to be in a poor condition or missing altogether.
As a consequence, three Prohibition Notices were issued, stopping some work immediately, and 12 Improvement Notices were issued requiring changes to be made.
Sartex Quilts and Textiles admitted to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £14,614 in prosecution costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Helen Mansfield said, “This was one of the worst cases of missing or inadequate guards I or my colleagues have ever seen. Every corner we turned, we found another issue.
The company put production before health and safety and put the lives of its employees in danger as a result. Common sense should have meant they didn't use cardboard to cover dangerous moving parts, but that's exactly what we found on one machine.
Hundreds of injuries are reported every year across Great Britain caused by poor or missing guards, and it's only luck that no one has been seriously injured or even killed at Sartex Quilts' factory in Rochdale.”