A company has been fined thousands of pounds after a piece of machinery crushed one of its employees causing him horrific injuries.

OCS Group was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court yesterday to pay £80,000 after a faulty 80kg piece, used to sort soiled towels, fell from 10ft crushing its engineering manager Joseph Pathmananthan, 61, from Sutton, while he tried to repair it.

The accident happened at the Cannon Hygiene Ltd factory in Balham, in October 2007, after a towel became jammed within a conveyor belt and Mr Pathmananthan attempted to release it with the help of a colleague.

Mr Pathmananthan suffered fractures to his femurs, his right tibia, ribs and spine. He also had a fractured left shoulder blade and injuries to his lungs.

The court heard how he was unconscious in hospital for 17 days, spent 14 days in intensive care and needed several operations and skin grafts to save his legs.

According to Crown prosecutor Victoria Atkins, Mr Pathmananthan was temporarily given health and safety duties at the factory, after the health and safety manager was made redundant in 2000, but never received adequate training for the position.

He was still in charge of health and safety at the time of the accident.

An internal investigation on the actions of Mr Pathmananthan and his colleague, conducted by OCS, found “the cause of the accident was due to failures in the site’s health and safety management.”

Miss Atkins said: “OCS launched disciplinary procedures against them which resulted in warning letters being placed in their personnel files.”

The company had pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier date. Mr Pathmananthan is now suing them for compensation.

On sentencing, Her Honour Judge Taylor said: “This accident was clearly caused at least in part by the failure in carrying out systematic risk assessments.”

Judge Taylor also mentioned the lack of monitoring and the fact Mr Pathmananthan remained without adequate training for years as contributing factors.

Mr Pathmananthan’s solicitor, Henrietta Phillips from Thompsons Solicitors said: “We welcome today’s decision and hope it comes as a sharp reminder to employers to make sure they provide a safe workplace for their employees.

“Mr Pathmananthan’s life has been completely turned upside down by this accident. His bravery and determination to walk again are a credit to him and his family.

"We are pursuing a claim for compensation on his behalf for not only the horrific injuries but the losses he has suffered and expenses he has incurred in his fight to walk again."

OCS Group was also ordered to pay legal costs amounting to £33,000.

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