Thursday, 20 February 2020

Lymington Precision Engineers fined £24,000 for failing to control risks from metalworking fluids.

Engineering company Lymington Precision Engineers Co Limited was fined £24,447 (inc.costs) for failing to control the risk of its employees developing dermatitis following exposure to metalworking fluid.
A visit by the HSE found the company had failed to ensure that adequate measures were in place for the control of exposure to metalworking fluids, exposing their employees to the risk of contracting dermatitis.
The HSE inspector said:
“This case could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing correct control measures and appropriate working practices. Appropriate controls could include provision and use of well-fitting overalls, use of gloves in contact with contaminated work pieces, avoidance of the use of airlines for cleaning activities, and the provision of an effective skin care regime. Control of exposure to hazardous substances is a legal requirement on employers and HSE provides guidance on how control can be achieved.”
It is interesting that no mention is made of the requirement for local exhaust ventilation (LEV).  This could have arisen because either:
  • The LEV was adequate, in which case the company had taken the primary steps to control respiratory ill health from metalworking fluids,
  • The HSE's press release (from which this blog is derived) failed to mention a key requirement, or
  • There is a mismatch in HSE stances on metalworking fluids in applying indg365.pdf.

For those in the Bristol area, do come along to the IOSH Bristol and West presentation on the health risks, assessment and control of metalworking fluids and mild steel welding fume, given by an HSE occupational health specialist.
The date and time are 11th June 2020, from 13:00 to 15:00 and the location is the BAWA Club, Filton, BS34 7RG.  
It's free and IOSH Bristol and West go out of our way to make you welcome.

How to design unreliability into a guard interlock

An accident occurred in 2019 on a laminator for printed material.

An in-running nip under a roller is guarded by a hinged guard with its associated interlock switch.  The LH picture shows the guard closed and the RH one shows it open.

Some of the material curled and jammed the machine so that it stopped mid-cycle.  The operator lifted the guard and did nothing wrong; for example, he did not override the interlock.  

After freeing the jam, the machine restarted by itself, which theoretically should not happen with an interlocked guard.  "How could this happen?", asked the company directors.

When I examined the electrical circuit diagram, I found the classic mistake of the high-reliability safety circuit being used as a feed to the PLC, rather than being downstream of the PLC. 

The PLC was not a safety-rated PLC and what appears to have happened is that the program was paused mid-cycle by the jam-up and therefore could not control the motor.

The lesson is to either use safety-rated PLCs or to use the safety circuit downstream of the PLC.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Appalling guarding

Here's a good example of appalling guarding seen yesterday on an injection moulding machine.
For a start, the clear panel on the door is falling off.
Then the interlock switches don't contact the sliding door. There's a 45° corner at each end of the door which should contact the roller on the switch when the door is slid one way or the other.
Clearly, neither do this.  And whoever unbolted the switch or bent the bracket is in breach of HSAW Act section 8.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

N&C Engineering Services Limited fined after employee fell through hole in mezzanine

Engineering company N&C Engineering Services Limited was fined £2000 (inc.costs) after a 31-year-old employee fell through a hole in a mezzanine floor during construction work being carried out in Bristol. The low fines was due to N&C Engineering Services now being liquidated.
The circumstances were:

  • N&C Engineering Services was involved with the installation of flooring at Albion Dockside Works, Hanover Place, Bristol.
  • An opening had been cut in the boarded‐out mezzanine floor.
  • N&C Engineering Services failed to adequately plan, manage and monitor the work.
  • They failed to ensure that appropriate methods to prevent or mitigate a fall during the construction work, were in use.
  • On 13 November 2018, an N&C Engineering Services employee fell through the hole three metres to the ground, suffering serious head injuries.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident so easily could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Lignacite fined £70,000 for inadequate guarding

Lignacite Limited, a manufacturer of concrete blocks, was fined £82,232 (inc.costs) for failing to maintain the safety enclosure of the cubing area in the block plant.
The circumstances were:

  • The HSE paid a visit to the Lignacite factory in April 2018.
  • They found a large area of perimeter fencing set up to prevent access to dangerous automated machinery was missing. 
  • They also found that other sections of the fencing were in a poor condition and locks at the gated entry points were either broken or left unlocked.
  • Further investigation revealed that parts of the perimeter fencing had not been in place since January 2018. 
  • The company had also failed to carry out any maintenance necessary to ensure the integrity of the fencing and gates.
The HSE inspector said:
“This was a case of the company failing to ensure the maintenance of the secure and gated entry to access multiple items of dangerous machinery and equipment. 
Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards and this is irrespective of whether injury has arisen.”

Recycled Packaging Ltd fined £20,000 after 500 kg bale of paper fell and trapped employee

Waste management and packing company Recycled Packaging Ltd was fined £20,000 after a worker was struck and trapped by a falling bale of compacted waste paper.
The circumstances were:

  • The method of storing bales in the warehouse was unsuitable.
  • Bales were stacked in single columns up to five high with no support or ‘tying in’ to aid stability.
  • There was a practice of removing contamination from bales by hand.
  • This created voids in lower bales contributing to the risk of stack instability.
  • On 13 December 2016 an employee was struck by a falling bale of paper which weighed approximately 500kg. 
  • He became trapped beneath it.

The HSE inspector said: 
“In the waste and recycling sector the risks associated with falling objects are well known.  This incident could easily have been avoided by providing a segregated workspace for operatives to clean bales before they are stacked and safe bale stacking procedures. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Saint-Gobain fined £400,000 after belt was started whilst a worker was exposed

Saint-Gobain Construction Products UK Limited was fined £412,945 (inc.costs) after a belt was started causing major arm injuries to one employee.
The circumstances were:

  • The accident occurred on a rock handling plant at their Barrow-Upon-Soar, Leicestershire, site.
  • The belt had become so compacted it was difficult to remove by hand.
  • Two employees were clearing rock that had built up around the belt.
  • There was no risk assessment or safe system of work in place for clearing rock safely from tail-end drums.
  • The guards were removed to ease the clearing operation.
  • Both men went to the isolator end of the belt and removed the local isolation and pressed the ‘start/stop’ button.
  • On checking the tail-end of the drum they saw it had not cleared itself of rock.
  • One of the men went to the opposite side of the tail-end drum to remove the rock and the pair were no longer in visual contact.
  • His colleague pressed the start/stop button again whilst his colleague’s arm was in close proximity to the rotating drum and his arm was drawn in.
  • He suffered major injuries.
The HSE inspector said:
“This injury could easily have been prevented, had the risk have been identified. Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery”.