Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Beware the CE mark, yet again

Two companies were fined after a worker suffered serious injuries to his left hand when it was caught in an unguarded stone cutting machine.
The circumstances were;
  • Windsmere Stone & Granite Ltd., bought the stone cutting machine in 2012 from Waters Group Ltd, of Cornwall.
  • The machine had been imported, having initially been produced for an Australian company, and came with a CE marking indicating that it complied with European safety standards. 
  • However, it was not fitted with adequate safeguards to prevent employees putting their hands into the traps between dangerous moving and fixed parts underneath the machine.
  • Therefore Waters Group had failed to provide a machine that was safe.
  • Also, Windsmere had not checked to ensure the machine they had bought was in fact safe.
  • On 12 March 2013 Richard Hale was cleaning the machine.
  • The glove on his left hand was caught and dragged by the corner of a moving blade motor carriage into the narrow gap between that and a support frame. 
  • His hand was trapped for around an hour until emergency services were able to release him.
  • The skin, muscles and tendons were stripped from the back of his left hand and he was admitted to hospital to undergo surgery. 
  • This was only partially successful and Mr Hale still suffers stiffness in his hand, restricted finger movement and a bent middle finger, although he has returned to work.
Windsmere Stone & Granite Ltd, was fined £5,337 (inc. costs). (PUWER)
Waters Group Ltd, was fined £7,020 (inc. costs). (Supply of Machinery [Safety] Regs.)
The HSE inspector added:
“This case highlights the need for employers to take reasonable steps to ensure that machines they buy and put into use are actually safe, whatever the manufacturers or suppliers may claim in documentation, or through CE marking. "Employers have a duty to assess the risks from machinery they use at work and should not assume that a machine will be safe as supplied or as installed – a risk assessment still needs to be carried out. “Otherwise, as happened here due to the combined failings of Mr Hale’s employer and the suppliers of the machine, workers are placed at unnecessary risk. Simple steps could and should have been taken to check and safeguard the stone cutter, instead he suffered a serious, debilitating injury.”

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