Friday, 28 November 2014

Warbutons employee caught in conveyor

Baking firm Warburtons Ltd was fined £6,162.50 (inc. costs) on 27 November after a maintenance worker seriously injured his hand when it was drawn into a conveyor. 
The circumstances were:
  • The maintenance worker was attempting to identify a fault on a hot tin slat conveyor belt on 22 October 2013. 
  • Only a crumb tray was used as a guard, and the tray was only easily removed from the conveyor by quick release catches.
  • There was no system for isolating machinery during such maintenance operations.
  • This was not the first time this machine had been worked on without being isolated.
  • Removal of guards for maintenance activities was commonplace at the bakery and not confined to this machine.
  • Fault tracking on other conveyors was undertaken while machines were running. 
  • Maintenance staff routinely removed fixed guards to access tracking points, which were close to the moving parts of machinery. 
  • The maintenance worker was lying on the floor holding a torch, which clipped the conveyor knocking it out of his hand. 
  • As he reached out to re-grab the torch, his hand was drawn into the roller on the underside of the machinery. 
  • He suffered an open fracture to his right hand and tissue damage, which required surgery. He was off work for more than two months and is still suffering from side-effects relating to the injury. 

Following the incident new guards were fitted to the machine involved, which meant they could only be removed using a specific tool. The company also produced specific systems of work for regular maintenance activities and ensured all relevant staff were trained in the new systems. 
The HSE Inspector said: 
“This worker’s injuries should not and need not have happened. This incident was easily preventable had Warburtons Ltd identified the risks from the maintenance activities and monitored the work undertaken by their employees. Guards and safety systems are there for a reason and companies have a legal duty to ensure they are properly fitted and working effectively at all times, especially during maintenance activities. Ideally, machines undergoing repair should be isolated from their power source. The measures Warburtons Ltd took following the incident, could have easily been implemented beforehand and prevented it from occurring.” 

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