Ends of 3 fingers lost in unguarded machine at chemical company
Omya UK Ltd., an East Yorkshire chemical company was fined £29,813 (inc. costs) after an employee lost the ends of three fingers in an unguarded part of a machine collecting calcium oxide dust. The circumstances were:
Ductwork under the rotary valve on a collection unit had been dismantled so the fine oxide could be collected in bags underneath, which was an unusual method.
The necks of the bags were placed under the valve but did not fit properly.
Omya UK Ltd., totally failed to assess the risks involved with running the machine without the ductwork in place.
Therefore, they had failed to make sure the dangerous parts were properly guarded.
On 14 Feb 2013, a worker noticed a build-up of powder on the outside of a bag,
He tried to adjust the fit, his hand caught the valve and came into contact with a shear point created by a rotating valve.
The moving part severed the tips of his first, second and third fingers to the first joint.
He has since recovered and been able to return to work.
The HSE inspector said:
“This case underlines the need for managers to consider risks before they get employees to carry out unusual or non-routine work. If that had happened, Omya could have prevented one of their employees being maimed for life. This is the essence of risk assessment – it is not pointless form-filling bureaucracy. Had Omya UK Ltd given some thought to this task, it would have been obvious that a guard was needed to stop accidental contact with a nasty shear trap inside the machine. Their poor planning meant workers getting near a dangerous part in order to try to make a bad plan work.”