Factory worker, 59, lost his hand in an industrial accident

Factory worker, 59, tells how he chopped off his hand in packaging machine before it was put into bag and taken to hospital with him where it was reattached in 11-hour operation

  • Christopher Wright, 59, was working at Playford Packaging factory in Wrexham
  • His hand was dragged into an industrial machine and was severed from his arm 
  • Mr Wright picked up hand before he was rushed to hospital for 11 hour operation
  • Company was fined £115,000 after health and safety watchdog found failures 

A grandfather picked up his own severed hand after it was chopped off in an industrial accident – and carried it for doctors to save.

Christopher Wright, 59, had the limb packed in a bag to be taken to hospital with him where it was reattached in an 11-hour operation.

His hand horror was revealed as his employers were fined £115,000 after being found to be in breach of Health and Safety laws.

Despite having the hand reattached, Christopher has been left with lifelong pain – and struggles to cuddle his granddaughter.

Engineer Christopher was working at a packaging factory when his hand was pulled inside a machine.

Christopher was working for Riftward Limited, trading as Playford Packaging, in Wrexham when the accident happened two years ago.

Christopher Wright, 59, (pictured with wife Elaine) lost his hand in an industrial accident when he was dragged into a machine he was operating and his employer has now been fined £115k

He said: ‘It’s impacted on everything I do every day. I can’t go back to being an engineer, and I can’t go back as an engineering manager as I can only type with one finger. I’m on the sick now.

‘The effects are life changing, I’m in pain all the time, it hurts whenever I touch something. It’s not something that gets better. I can’t dress myself properly, I can’t do up zips or tie my shoelaces.

‘My wife has had to finish work just to look after me. I have a three-year-old granddaughter now and I can’t even pick her up to give her a cuddle.’

Christopher was repairing the machine when his hand became caught.

‘It all happened very quickly. I just thought “my hand has gone”. I grabbed my wrist and shouted for help and dropped to the floor’, he said.

Riftward Limited, trading as Playford Packaging, which employed Christopher, was fined £115,000 for breaching health and safety regulations.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered the company’s risk assessment was neither suitable nor sufficient as it had not considered the risks created from use of the machine, including during maintenance activities.

There was no safe system of work in place to ensure safe isolation and access for tasks such as maintenance.

Mr Wright was taken to hospital where his hand was reattached in an 11-hour operation

It also found it was common practice to bypass a gate that kept people and the machine separated, and to stand within the fenced area whilst the machine was in operation, demonstrating a lack of adequate supervision.

The HSE said employees hadn’t received any instruction for the safe isolation of the machine.

Riftward Packaging pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and was fined £115,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,308 and a victim surcharge of £190 at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court on September 14.

Christopher had worked at the packaging manufacturer for 18 months.

Describing said: ‘We’d had problems with the belts lots of times, and it was no different to jobs I’d done every week.

‘The machines have guards around them, it’s a barrier to stop you going in. We’d opened the door and gone in. I was stood between the two arms of the machine. I’d done that many times.

‘I asked the operator to start the machine as you had to get the machine running as quickly as you could.

‘The chain grabbed my sleeve. The guy on the other side of the conveyor pulled me out from under the machine.

Mr Wright says the injury has been life changing and he has pain and cannot bend his fingers

‘They put a tourniquet on my arm and tightened it with a screwdriver. They retrieved my hand from the machine and that went in a bag with me to the hospital.’

A Welsh Air Ambulance took him to hospital in Stoke, and from there he was transferred to Royal Derby Hospital’s Pulvertaft Hand Centre, where surgeons re-attached his hand.

Mr Wright said: ‘Now I have some feeling in my hand, I have a little wiggle in my thumb and my fingers, but I can’t pick anything up. There’s no bend in my fingers. 

‘My hand is very sensitive – if something is a little bit warm, it feels burning hot, and if it’s a cool, it feels freezing cold.’

Mr Wright said that it was all too clear how devastating an impact failing to follow the regulations could have.

He said: ‘It was the attitude to health and safety there that makes me angry. 

‘Companies must stick to the health and safety rules, they have to be adhered to, they have to be followed. If companies don’t follow them, it’s a risk to people’s lives. 

‘The cost isn’t worth it. If there had been a proper health and safety policy, and it had been adhered to, I wouldn’t be where I am now.’

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones said: ‘Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in that safe system of working.

‘If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.’

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