Lowmac Alloys Ltd., an Ayrshire waste recycling firm was fined £118,000 on 6th October 2014 after an agency worker severed his left arm at the shoulder while clearing a CONVEYOR belt blockage. The circumstances were:
Lowmac failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks when employees were exposed to dangerous parts of CONVEYOR belt machinery.
As a result, they failed to provide interlocking guarding to stop dangerous parts moving before a worker entered the danger zones.
They failed to provide effective supervision in order to prevent its employees from entering danger zones while dangerous parts were moving.
They failed to provide a safe system of work to clear blockages, ensuring mains isolators were locked off to prevent electrical power being supplied to the machinery.
They were aware of the problems having been served with a Deferred Prohibition Notice in 2003 relating to conveyors.
Steven Dawson was working as a line supervisor when the incident happened on 8 February 2011.
He was alerted to a problem with the CONVEYOR belt and noticed a metal container had caught on the edge of the conveyor belt’s pulley.
The guards over the pulley were not interlocked to stop the conveyor when one was opened.
He opened a hinged guard to access the blockage.
When he attempted to remove the container his left hand and arm came into contact with the moving belt and the bottom of the pulley resulting in his arm being severed at the shoulder.
One of his colleagues pulled the “stop cord” that was fitted along the conveyor to switch off the machinery.
Mr Dawson was taken to hospital but doctors were unable to reattach his arm. Over the following weeks he underwent two operations and has been told he needs further surgery to repair the nerves in his shoulder
Mr Dawson still suffers from considerable pain and has been unable to return to work.
The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident was entirely preventable. Lowmac Alloys Ltd had identified there was a high risk of crushing and trapping in the machinery, however, the company failed to provide interlocking guarding to the gate over the CONVEYOR which would have cut power to the machinery when it was opened. Had this been in place, then employees would not have been exposed to the risk from the dangerous parts of the machine. As a consequence of this breach, Mr Dawson suffered a horrific, life changing injury."