An employee of Newcastle-under-Lyme mineral company Dupre Minerals Ltd received multiple injuries in an industrial accident after which he was considered fortunate to be alive.

Simon Lowe, 30, sustained serious injuries including deep puncture wounds, internal bleeding, a broken pelvis, fractured spine and lacerated tendons in his thumb when he fell onto spikes attached to the hopper grill.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Dupre Minerals Ltd, of Spencroft Road, after its investigation found that employees had been left to devise their own systems of work and there were inadequate control measures to prevent them from climbing onto the hopper.

Fenton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 17 July 2010, Mr Lowe climbed onto the grill of the feed hopper and attempted to empty a bag of the mineral vermiculite into it. He fell and impaled himself on the spikes positioned on the hopper’s grid, used to rip open the bags.

The firm pleaded guilty to contravening Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,236 costs.

Almost one year after the incident, Mr Lowe is still being treated for his injuries and has not yet returned to work.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Wayne Owen said:

“Mr Lowe’s injuries were such that his hospital consultant told him he was lucky to be alive.

“This incident could have been prevented if the company had carried out a suitable risk assessment and then implemented the findings.

“The activities which led to the incident had been ongoing for some time, yet management failed to properly monitor the practices of their workforce and detect these clearly unsafe activities.”