Friday, 3 October 2014

Lack of isolation causes potential loss of leg

Roydon Polythene (Exports) Ltd., a recycling firm was fined £11,221 (inc. costs) on 26 September 2014 after an employee almost lost his right leg when it became trapped in a machine. 
The circumstances were:
  • It had become routine for workers to climb from the lifting basket onto the conveyor belt to clear blockages from an unguarded part of the machine. 
  • The machine was not isolated for this task
  • There were also no guard rails around the edge of the conveyor to prevent employees from falling to the ground below. 
  • On 16 October 2013 a jam occurred in a glass sorting machine.
  • The employee was lifted in a mobile elevating work platform, before climbing out of the basket and onto a conveyor belt, more than four metres above the ground. 
  • As he tried to clear the blockage, his right leg was drawn into the machinery.
  • His leg remained trapped for more than two hours while emergency services tried to cut him free. 
  • He sustained significant crush injuries, requiring multiple operations to try and save his leg. 
  • Nearly a year after the incident, doctors still do not know whether he will ever regain the full use of his leg. 
The HSE Inspector said: 
“A worker has suffered severe injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life because his employer failed in its duty to ensure he stayed safe at work. “This wasn’t a one-off incident. Instead, workers were routinely expected to climb onto the conveyor belt to clear blockages from an unguarded part of the machine, putting their lives at risk. It was therefore almost inevitable that someone would be injured, either by becoming trapped in the machine or falling to the ground below. “Roydon Polythene should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks facing its employees, and taken action to put safety measures in place. If it had then the worker’s injuries could have been avoided.”

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