Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Worker was unaware that safety interlock had been overridden and lost fingers as a result

Heaps, Arnold and Heaps Ltd., a Rotherham manufacturing firm was fined £8687 (inc. costs) after an employee’s fingers were crushed and severed in a machine where the guard interlock had been deliberately overridden.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a 250 tonne press which included a guard, interlocked so that the press could not run whilst it was open.
  • Heaps, Arnold and Heaps had inadequate management systems and there was a lack of competence relating to the required machinery guarding standards.
  • This interlock was overridden whilst the injured person was on holiday.
  • He was unaware of this.
  • He put his hand into the machine during a routine cleaning operation but the press activated without warning and his fingers were crushed by the ram. 
  • He lost the index and middle fingers and suffered further crush injuries to his left hand. 
  • He is undertaking a phased return to work but still needs medical and physiotherapy treatment.

The HSE Inspector said:
“This serious injury was entirely preventable.  A safety device had been deliberately taken off with the full knowledge of management. There were no systems in place to check the safety of machines and this employee was certainly not told that the machine had been left in a dangerous condition. Safety devices, such as guards and interlocks, are installed on machines for very good reason – and that is to prevent workers from coming into contact inadvertently with dangerous moving parts. Regulations and safety standards have been in place for many years on this issue and are well-recognised by the majority of companies. Sadly, this was not the case here and an employee of long-standing now has to endure the consequences for the rest of his life.”

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