Story by: ANDREW PAPWORTH
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
A FACTORY worker was crushed to death after she got caught inside an industrial printing machine, an inquest heard.
Zydre Groblyte may have climbed over a safety gate inside the printing room at RGE Engineering’s site in Godmanchester to put thinners into the ink pads of a machine, which printed onto the front panels of industrial washing machines.
“During the course of that, the machine started working and she was trapped,” Belinda Cheney, deputy coroner for South and West Cambridgeshire, said. “She was heard to scream by colleagues, who went to find help.”
A jury of six men and three women heard how the 23-year-old had just returned from her lunch break on April 27 this year with colleague Neringa Venskuviene, who she was reportedly helping to train, when the accident happened at around 2.20pm.
“The next thing I heard was her screaming,” Ms Venskuviene said. “I and another Lithuanian ran for help.”
Ms Groblyte, an agency worker, was caught between two components. There was speculation that she did not turned off the machine in order to save time, or that the machine may have been restarted accidentally.
The factory was shut down and most staff sent home while the police and Health and Safety Executive carried out investigations at the site and interviewed workers involved in the running of the print room.
Inspector Mark Greenhalgh attended the scene and in a statement after the incident said: “It’s my opinion that this was as a result of bad working practices and as a shortcut to not turn the machine off to save time.”
However, the inquest was told there would have been no time advantage in leaving the machine running while replenishing the ink – the machine took just 10 to 15 seconds to restart. The machine could only be restarted by a start button of pedal, but it was possible it was restarted by accident, the jurors heard.
Workers from the factory also said that access to the machine was through a safety gate which, when opened, would close off the power.
“The very act of opening the security doors cuts power to the machine,” said Michael Andrews, print room co-ordinator at the time of the accident.
Ms Groblyte had worked at the site in The Avenue, Godmanchester, for approximately eight months having been sent by the City Staff recruitment agency in Peterborough.
Duncan Dennison, the general manager of the agency, said they had provided workers with a basic induction before sending them to RGE but that solicitors had since advised them they had been doing this incorrectly. The training is now provided by RGE, he said.
The accident left the Miss Groblyte, of New Road, Woodston, Peterborough, with severe internal head injuries. She was confirmed dead at the scene by paramedics.
The three-day inquest started on Monday. Jurors were due to be sent out to consider their verdict today (Wednesday) following the conclusion of the evidence and summing up by the coroner.