A COMPANY director has been fined more than £50,000 after a factory worker suffered life-changing injures in a horrific industrial accident.

Karolina Lubieniecka was scalped after her hair became trapped in machinery on the production line at Cheshire Moulding and Woodturnings, also losing an ear and a thumb.

This afternoon, Tuesday, production director Paul Carney, from Woolston, was slapped with a fine of £10,800 and ordered to pay costs of £43,241 over a catalogue of health and safety failings.

And the St Helens-based company was also told to cough up nearly £500,000 at Liverpool Crown Court.

The court heard that supervisor Ian Latham had been sacked on the spot hours before the accident in June 2016 following a row with 50-year-old Carney, who earns more than £100,000-per-year, and his brother and managing director John Carney.

Mr Latham had previously raised concerns over a number of health and safety issues in the factory – which manufactures and distributes timber stair parts, balustrades, decking, flooring and mouldings – but these worries had been ignored.

Paul Carney, who often had a 'hands-on' role in the factory, took charge of the production line following Mr Latham's dismissal.

Issues had beset machinery in the days leading up to the accident, with blockages reported up to 50 times per hour.

At one stage, part of the production line was shut down in order for work to be carried out.

As Ms Lubieniecka, who lives in Warrington, cleaned the area around a strapping section at this point, her hair became caught in a drive shaft that was still turning.

The then 29-year-old agency worker 'made frantic efforts to free herself', but was unable to do so.

She lost her left thumb, left ear and part of her right ear and was scalped from her eyebrows to the back of her head.

A Polish national who had been in the UK for two years at the time of the accident, her vision, hearing, balance and coordination has been affected by her injuries.

Ms Lubieniecka now has to wear a wig and had been left with 'extensive' scarring, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Having spent a month in hospital following the incident, she has since undergone a number of operations including skin grafts.

An investigation following the accident found that dangerous parts of machinery were left unguarded and that risk assessments were 'far from adequate'.

Staff gave a 'poor picture of unsafe practices' on the production line – regularly being instructed to access the production line, remove blockages and clean up while machinery was still running.

Mr Latham had taken issue with this, but these concerns were 'not reinforced by management and unsafe practices continued'.

Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturnings has previously been convicted of health and safety breaches on three occasions after workers were injured in accidents.

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The company was fined in 2001 and 2004 for incidents in which workers were injured, with an employee losing a thumb in the latter.

It was then fined more than £350,000 in 2017 after worker Lenka Toperczer had three fingers sliced off in a horrific training accident.

Carney, who has worked for the company since 2003, and Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturnings Limited each admitted two health and safety breaches during earlier hearings.

James Ageros, defending the company, told the court: "The company regrets the commission of these offences and apologises to the court for having committed them, and apologises to Ms Lubieniecka – who clearly was very badly injured.

"The company hopes that she makes as good and rapid a recovery as possible."

Carney's barrister Michael Hayton added: "This is a family-run company where there have been issues in the past in terms of health and safety.

"This incident has had a profound effect on all of the directors.

"My client can be dealt with in a way which would allow him to help the company to learn another lesson from this event that in the past it has not learned as well as it should have done."

Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturnings Limited, which boasts an annual turnover of more than £30million, was fined £474,311.90 and ordered to pay court costs of £7,468.90.

Both the company and Carney were each told to pay victim surcharges of £177.

Ms Lubieniecka is understood to be pursuing a claim for compensation through the civil courts.

Sentencing, judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: "There were multiple safety failures – this situation fell far short of the appropriate standards to be expected, and this had continued for a prolonged period.

"Given the history of health and safety breaches here, changes had been made – but they were not adequate.

"A number of employees were exposed to the risk of harm.

"This amounted to a serious and systemic failure on the company's part."