Monday, 7 July 2014

Lack of isolation crushes young employee's arm. Company fined almost £25,000 and director fined £1,800.

Equestrobed, a Suffolk horse bedding manufacturer and its managing director were fined £24,969 (inc. costs) and £1,800 respectively after a young employee’s arm was crushed because a compactor was not isolated.
The circumstances were:
  • The press plate on a compactor had been blocked with dust and wood shavings, preventing the machine from operating properly. 
  • There was no system of work requiring isolation from the power source for unblocking this machine.
  • Christopher Barker was removing this dust and wood shavings, and to do this he had removed the side guard. He had had to do this before.
  • As he was removing the debris the machine was activated, crushing his arm between the plate and the hatch opening.
  • He suffered damage to the muscle, tendons and nerves in his left arm which required two surgical procedures and a blood transfusion. 

The HSE Inspector said:
“Christopher Barker suffered a serious life changing injury and has been left with serious damage to his arm. He was just 17 at the time, when youth and lack of experience should have prompted extra vigilance by his employer. The incident could easily have been avoided had there been proper safeguards in place when clearing the blockages on the baler including ensuring that it was properly isolated before starting work. This case highlights what can go wrong if robust procedures are not in place to manage interventions on large items of plant and machinery.”

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