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Macfarlan Smith fined $12,000 after accident at API plant

By Gareth MacDonald+

21-Aug-2014
Last updated on 21-Aug-2014 at 12:26 GMT

Macfarlan Smith fined $12,000 after accident at API plant

Opiate API manufacturer Macfarlan Smith has been fined £12,000 for failing to ensure the safety of an employee injured at its plant in Scotland in 2011.

The firm - part of UK chemicals and precious metal company Johnson Matthey – accepted the fine and admitted breaching the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act in a hearing at the Edinburgh Sheriff Court this week.

The accident took place in September 2011 when Macfarlan employee Alexander Mackenzie was crushed by a reversing truck in the loading bay at the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) supplier’s facility.

Mackenzie suffered injuries to his head, face and chest but has since made a full recovery.

Risk Assessment

Macfarlan admitted it not conducted sufficient risk assessments of its loading bay operations and that there was no safe system of work. The firm also agreed that the bay had not been kept clear and free from obstructions.

Gary Aitken, head of the health and safety division of Scotland’s public prosecution service, said: "Macfarlan Smith Limited accepted liability and the Crown accepted their guilty plea to the contraventions of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

"This was an entirely avoidable accident which resulted in the severe injury of an employee that has thankfully had no long lasting effect."

Macfarlan spokeswoman Debra Boni confirmed this and told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “A thorough review of our risk assessments was conducted and improvements implemented as a result.”

API supply

The Edinburgh site, which makes opiate APIs for the pharmaceutical industry, currently employs around 250 people following a headcount reduction in response to law changes that changes the competitive landscape , according to parent Johnson Matthey.

In July this year, Johnson said that it had finished restructuring operations at Macfarlan and reported that its fine chemicals unit had seen profits increase as a result of gains made in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) ingredients and bulk opiates.

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