Pirelli Tyres has been slapped with a £512,000 fine after two workers were injured in almost exactly the same way in accidents that occurred two years apart at the firm’s Carlisle site.
The workers, Unite members, severely broke their arms after attempting to adjust a piece of equipment that had no guard preventing staff from getting too close.
In the first incident in 2013, the worker was using a stripline machine that feeds fabric mesh used in making tyres onto a reel. The bobbin revolving at high speed that feeds the mesh in wasn’t properly engaged, and the worker tried to adjust the fabric into the right position. This then pulled the worker’s arm into the machine, which broke his arm in two places.
After having two pins inserted and taking three months off from work to recover, the worker is now registered as one-quarter disabled.
Despite Pirelli’s claim that it fit the machine with a guard afterwards to prevent accidents, almost the exact same incident happened in 2015 with the same piece of equipment. The worker was asked to use the stripline machine even though he had not been trained in its use.
He, too, broke his arm, which required pins and he likewise had to take three months off from work.
Pirelli Tyres plead guilty to two breaches of regulations governing work equipment use. The firm was ordered to pay £12,000 for the first infraction in 2013 and £500,000 for the second. Pirelli was also forced to pay over £5000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
Unite regional officer Malcolm Carruthers said the case of the Pirelli tyre factory at Carlisle “shows the vital importance of health and safety legislation diligently built up over decades in UK law.
“There have been historic problems with health and safety at this site that were caused or exacerbated by the attitude of looking to blame individuals, who had an accident, in a blame-shifting exercise, rather than address the root cause of the accident,” he said.
Indeed as Health and Safety at Work highlighted, there have been multiple incidents at the Pirelli Tyres, including a death of a worker in an industrial oven at the Carlisle site in 2012. An apprentice at the firm’s Burton-on-Trent site suffered serious hand injuries in 2014, while another worker at the Carlisle plant broke his arm in a testing machine in 2013.
Carruthers said that the latest case “shows that lessons were not learned from the first incident that should have prevented a further occurrence.
“Senior reps on-site have said that they are encouraged by what appears to be a better approach in recent times to health and safety,” he added.
“Unite has well-trained safety reps on site and their knowledge and experience in these roles should be appreciated for the benefits they can offer.”
Unite legal manager for the north west Michael Tighe highlighted the importance of Unite Legal Services which he said “is proud to be providing comprehensive specialist legal support to any members who have been injured in work”.
“Our legal experts are helping our members to achieve justice and recover the compensation they deserve,” Tighe added. “Our members receive 100 per cent of any compensation recovered.
“Having Unite Legal Services in your corner to call upon is, in itself, a compelling reason to join Unite.”
Find out more about Unite Legal Services here.