Monday, 30 June 2014

Scrap metal company fined £94,000 and businessman fined £15,000 after baler crushes legs

A scrap metal company and a businessman were fined on 24 June 2014 after a worker lost both legs in a baler.
H Ripley & Co were fined £94,633 (inc. costs) and John Platt fined £15,000.
The circumstances were:
  • H Ripley bought the 5m long baling machine in 2008, second-hand and fire-damaged.
  • They needed to get the radio control system re-built and they engaged John Platt to do this.
  • The remote control, manufactured and installed by John Platt, had several serious flaws. 
  • Once the baler doors started closing, the remote control failed to activate to stop them. 
  • In addition the remote was not robust enough for the demands of working in a scrap metal yard.
  • The lack of suitable controls meant workers were able to get too close to the crushing and shearing hazards presented by the machine.
  • The baler, used to compact scrap metal, took only one minute and 15 seconds to go from ‘car to cube’. 
  • The maximum force of its doors was 180 tonnes.
  • The company's isolation procedure was totally inadequate.
  • On 24 May 2011, a worker was dealing with a problem inside the baler when the doors of the machine began to close. 
  • He tried to use a remote control to stop them, but it failed to respond.
  • He was unable to escape and one leg was severed; the other was severely crushed and was amputated later in hospital

The HSE Inspector said:
“This was a horrific incident in which a worker suffered the loss of both legs, endured a sixth-month period in hospital and who will now spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. It was also entirely preventable, H Ripley & Co had completely neglected to consider the risks and identify control measures needed to operate the machine safely. It had failed to ensure that there was a system to isolate the machine from power before anyone could get inside. It appears that no thought was given to the safety aspects of the remote units for the baler or the way they worked. Had original remotes been sourced or had John Platt manufactured fully functional alternatives, it is likely the incident would not have happened. There are well-known and significant risks in the waste and recycling sector and it is imperative that employers fully identify and recognise those risks on their sites and take the necessary action to protect their workforce from the dangers they present.” 

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