Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Ebbw Vale company fined over £14K after lorry driver was hit by forklift truck

Platt Packaging Limited, an Ebbw Vale packaging company, was fined £14,663 (inc. costs) after a delivery driver was hit by a forklift truck at its premises.
The circumstances were:
  • Graham Williams visited Platt Packaging on 7 October 2013 to collect palletised products.
  • Platt Packaging had no formal safe system of work in place for delivery operations at the site. 
  • The company also failed to provide instructions for delivery drivers to be in a place of safety while the forklift truck was being used. 
  • While his lorry was being loaded, Mr Williams was on a telephone call with his employer and was standing nearby with his back to the vehicle.  
  • Suddenly he was struck by the reversing forklift truck and knocked to the ground.
  • He suffered a double fracture to his left ankle, damage to his leg and spent over a month in hospital. He has been unable to return to work.

The HSE Inspector said:
“The dangers associated with workplace transport are well-documented in the industry. Incidents involving moving vehicles and pedestrians on the same site have resulted in major injuries, and even fatalities in the workplace. Platt Packaging should have provided a clearly marked, designated safe zone for delivery drivers and implemented a safe system of work that incorporated the need for communication between the delivery driver and the forklift operator. Had these basic safety requirements been fulfilled, the incident would not have happened and Mr Williams would not have been injured.”

Lack of isolation causes injury when conveyor belt started up

BW Riddle, a Lincolnshire metal recycling firm was fined £88,000 (inc. costs) after an employee fell from a conveyor belt when it started up.
The circumstances were:

  • In August 2010 the HSE found there were no formal procedures for isolating the conveyors during maintenance. They issued an Improvement Notice which was complied with.
  • Further enforcement action was taken in 2010 relating to failing to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery, and again in 2011.
  • On 7 February 2013 a worker was carrying out maintenance on the conveyor belt, leaning over the top end while working on the bearings. 
  • There was no isolation/lock-out procedure.
  • Whilst he was still on the belt, the main power was switched on again and the whole line, including the belt, reactivated.
  • The man fell from the belt onto a heap of scrap metal below, and then onto the concrete floor, breaking ribs on both sides of his body.
The HSE inspector said:
“The incident could easily have resulted in a death and only luck saved this worker from more serious injury. Had the company put in place the correct, formal procedures for locking off and isolating the conveyor belts, this incident could have been prevented entirely. However, it is clear that while BW Riddle had complied with previous enforcement action, the firm neglected safety again and again, and disregarded lessons that should have been learned from previous HSE interventions.”

Jaguar Land Rover fined after employee was dragged into poorly guarded machinery

Jaguar Land Rover Ltd was fined £53,474 (inc. costs) after an employee suffered life-threatening crush injuries when he was dragged into inadequately guarded machinery.
The circumstances were:

  • The incident happened in the paint shop at the company’s site in Solihull .
  • There was a gap in the perimeter guarding that surrounded the vehicle body lifting equipment.
  • This gap was to allow fixtures on a chain conveyor to pass.
  • On 14 June 2013 there were a series of frequent production line stoppages. 
  • maintenance electrician approached the gap so he could witness the troublesome process in operation.
  • As he watched he was hit by an empty vehicle body carrier that was travelling through the gap on the conveyor
  • He was knocked to the ground and forcibly dragged through the gap into a restricted processing area where he was severely crushed.
  • He punctured both lungs and broke ten ribs, his breastbone, two bones in his spine and two in his right hand. He had blood clots on his heart and kidneys and was in an induced coma in intensive care for 12 days. He was in hospital for a further seven days but was back at work within 17 weeks.
  • The gap remained unguarded following the incident until HSE enforcement required that further protective measures be provided. 
  • The area of conveyor was then enclosed with fixed perimeter guards by Jaguar Land Rover and a robust key exchange access system introduced. 
The Judge said "Jaguar Land Rover fell far short of a safe and reasonable standard. This was an entirely reasonable, foreseeable situation. The breach was an ongoing failure and an accident waiting to happen.”
The HSE inspector said:
“The incident was entirely preventable. Although the gap was minimally sized to allow empty carriers into the restricted area, it also allowed access to dangerous moving parts within the production process while in itself creating a crush hazard with the moving conveyor. Jaguar Land Rover has extensive safety systems in place and the Lode Lane plant had other facilities with similar processes that are guarded much more effectively. The company should have ensured the same level of protection at this location. It didn’t and as a result a man suffered horrific injuries. It is remarkable that he recovered enough to return to work within 17 weeks. The incident could very easily have ended his life.”

Friday, 19 December 2014

Yet another brand new machine with a CE mark yet with inadequate guarding

I make no apologies for being boring about being wary of the CE mark.

Just because a machine is new and has this mark, it does not necessarily mean it is safe. Nor does it mean that it has been passed by the "CE Inspector"; there's no such beast, apart from some very specific pieces of equipment.

This is (obviously) a brand new grinder. The clear plastic guard simply lifts out and has no interlock. Both it and the blue guards are not high enough and you can easily reach the rotating grinding wheel.

Were there to be an accident, the employer would be liable for prosecution.  The supplier of the equipment should also be liable but, as the machine is foreign (Italian), it is normally too difficult to bring a case.

The employer now has to incur
 the cost of fitting proper guarding. 

What I always recommend is that companies specifically state in their purchase order that a percentage of the final payment will be withheld pending assessment of whether or not the equipment meets the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations. 

See more about CE support

Co Durham company fined after lorry driver was hit by a forklift truck

Meditek Ltd., a County Durham stairlift manufacturer was fined £5090.60 (inc. costs and compensation) after a delivery driver was seriously injured when he was struck by a reversing fork lift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred in the goods in area of the company on 7 November 2013.
  • Although there was a risk assessment covering the “goods in” and “goods out” areas, it did not consider the foreseeable risk that people in those areas might be struck by a moving vehicle.
  • The management of vehicles and pedestrians was inadequate.
  • In particular, delivery drivers were allowed to walk around the loading area watching while their lorry was loaded.
  • The driver was heading back to his vehicle. 
  • The driver of the fork lift truck failed to ensure that there was no one behind him before he reversed.
  • The lorry driver saw the fork lift truck reversing towards him and he instinctively moved to his left, towards his trailer, in an attempt to avoid it.
  • However, the fork lift turned in the same direction, knocking him to the ground and running over both of his feet.
  • He suffered de-gloving of the big toe on his left foot and severe bruising and grazing to both feet and legs. He had to undergo surgery to repair his toe, but this was unsuccessful and the toe was amputated on 9 December 2013.
  • While some improvements were made by the company immediately following the incident, an Improvement Notice was still necessary to ensure external areas of the workplace were organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner.
  • The company complied with the notice by reviewing its management of pedestrians and vehicles across the factory, and by simply preventing delivery drivers from standing in the loading and unloading areas while the fork lift truck was operating.

The HSE inspector said:
“Meditek cooperated fully with HSE’s investigation and accepted that this incident was easily preventable had it identified the risks to pedestrians in the loading area associated with moving vehicles. The close proximity of the delivery driver in an area where a fork lift truck was reversing was unsafe. The risks associated with pedestrians and vehicles working in proximity to each other are well known and there is plenty of advice available on how to reduce those risks. This delivery driver suffered a serious injury because of the company’s failures.”

Complete Utilities Ltd fined £107,000 after lorry driver crushed between container and vehicle

Gloucester-based Complete Utilities Ltd was fined £107,000 (inc. costs) after an employee died from being crushed between a vehicle and container during a loading operation.
The circumstances were:
  • On 24 October 2012 Spencer Powles was at the company's yard with his lorry to collect a road saw.
  • There was no system of work for lifting such items.
  • The site was disorganised and chaotic with no measures to organise traffic or safely separate vehicles and pedestrians on site.
  • The operator of a telehandler was attempting to position its front carriage above the road saw, with the intention of lifting it onto Mr Powles’ lorry.
  • The operator of the telehandler had not received proper training from a qualified instructor.
  • In addition, the telehandler was poorly maintained, though this was not a contributory factor.
  • The operator braked suddenly when he saw Mr Powles appear by the saw. 
  • This caused the vehicle to lurch forward, trapping Mr Powles between the carriage of the telehandler and the container.
  • Mr Powles suffered severe injuries to his abdomen and was airlifted to hospital in Bristol, where he died 10 days later.

The HSE inspector said:
“This terrible incident could have been avoided and Mr Powles would still be here today if Complete Utilities had provided proper training to staff in the operation of this telehandler. It is not acceptable to put drivers into vehicles that they have not previously operated, or without the necessary training by a qualified and competent instructor. Workplace transport is the second biggest cause of fatal and major incidents in the workplace. Employers must ensure that all drivers are properly trained by qualified, competent instructors for the vehicles they are operating. Site vehicle movements need to be controlled and arrangements put in place to segregate vehicles and pedestrians.”

Inadequate pressure testing area causes back injury

Aberdeenshire company Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd, trading as ACE Winches, was fined £10,000 after a young apprentice was injured when he was struck on the back by a pressurised hose.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on 25 July 2012 in a pressure testing area.
  • The pressure testing area was segregated from the rest of the workshop by striped plastic tape.  
  • If the position of the tape was far enough away from the item under test, this would be an adequate control method. 
  • However, there was no system for calculating the safe distance and the size of the testing area was left up to the individual doing the testing.
  • The company failed to provide formal training to staff carrying out the testing.
  • The apprentice approached a pressure testing area to collect something from his toolbox when he heard a loud noise coming from the hoses, which were being tested. 
  • He saw a hose whip up in the air and as he turned it struck him on the back causing him to fall to the ground
  • There had been previous failures of this kind in the past, which the workshop management were aware of, but as they did not cause the hose to whip up in the air, workers continued to carry on testing in the same way.
  • At the time, the company was building a testing booth which is now complete and used for all pressure testing activities.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident could have easily been avoided if Alfred Cheyne Engineering Ltd had carried out a risk assessment for the pressure testing of hose assemblies, which would have identified the safety measures required to reduce any risks. The need for pressure testing to be segregated from other work and for employees not to be allowed to approach any equipment while it is under pressure is well documented in guidance, which is readily available. In this case the young apprentice was lucky to receive only cuts and bruises, his injuries could have been a lot worse.”

Apprentice caught in unguarded milling machine

Magellan Aerospace of Bournemouth was fined £34,157 (inc. costs) after an apprentice worker suffered severe injuries to his arm when it became entangled in moving machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • On 11 March 2013 Adam Harris, an apprentice machinist, was machining a piece of nylon block on a vertical milling machine.
  • The machine was fitted with swing and slide guards but these were not interlocked to stop the machine when opened. 
  • It was routine practice at Magellan to remove guards when they wouldn’t close around a large vice, or when the workpiece was longer than the bed of the machine.
  • The company had a history of non-compliance in respect of milling machine guarding having received HSE enforcement notices in the past.
  • Magellan Aerospace failed to identify the risks when young, inexperienced apprentices worked on the machines with varying levels of supervision.
  • Mr Harris's right arm became caught around the spindle and cutter.
  • He sustained multiple breakages and injuries and spent five weeks in hospital undergoing numerous operations. His injuries may cause permanent impairment and disability.
  • Despite Mr Morris’ horrific incident, the company has since failed to put controls in place to stop the guards being removed until HSE issued enforcement notices requiring them to take action. 

The HSE Inspector said:
“Mr Harris has been traumatised at a very early stage of his working life and has suffered great pain in this incident. It could have been avoided had Magellan Aerospace fitted interlocks to stop the movement of dangerous parts and properly supervised the work, particularly in view of this young man’s level of experience. Vertical milling machines have the potential to be very versatile and there can be occasions where workpieces that could be completed on the machine might pose challenges to normal safeguarding arrangements. However, the solution is not to simply remove the machine’s guards and rely on the operator’s skill.”

Leisure Products fined £10,500 for failing to guard milling machine

Leisure Products Ltd., a Kent firm that makes safety surfaces for playgrounds was fined £10,500 (inc. costs) after it failed to heed warnings from safety experts to properly guard dangerous machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • Island Leisure were issued with a prohibition notice in June 2010 when an HSE inspector had found a milling machine being used without any guards to protect workers from dangerous moving parts. 
  • The notice prevented any further use of the machine until effective guarding was installed, and was originally complied with.
  • On a visit on 11 December 2013 visit, HSE found the same machine in use, but again with no safety guarding.
  • The HSE prosecuted the company for failing to ensure that effective guarding was in place to prevent operators from getting too close to the rotating parts of the machine.

The HSE inspector said:
“Fortunately, no one at the factory was injured but this was down to chance rather than any good management. Island Leisure once again neglected safety and seemed to have disregarded any lesson learned from HSE’s enforcement action on the exact same machine back in 2010. To return to the same premises and find the identical dangers still very much apparent is totally unacceptable. There was very real risk of entanglement of workers’ hands in the moving parts leading to lacerations at best, amputation of hands at worst.”

Recycling company fined over £218,000 after forklift truck overturned, killing driver

Recresco Ltd, a recycling company, was fined £218,693 (inc. costs) after a worker was killed when the forklift truck he was driving overturned.
The circumstances were:
  • Ian Aliski had been hired on a temporary four-day contract and was just a few hours into his first day when the incident happened on 26 April 2010.
  • Forklift truck drivers regularly had to work in an area that was often covered in waste materials. 
  • This prevented them from turning the vehicles safely.
  • The forklift trucks in use at the plant were not suitable for operation on uneven surfaces or over loose material such as that found on the site.
  • Alternative vehicles, such as four-wheel-drive, all terrain shovel loaders, could have been used and were already in use elsewhere on the site.
  • There was no company policy in place to ensure seatbelts were worn.
  • Mr Aliski was not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Mr Aliski was moving waste material from the recycling process.
  • The forklift truck became unstable on the uneven surface and overturned, fataly crushing Mr Aliski.
  • Since the incident, the company now uses alternative vehicles to move all the waste material on the site and it is now company policy for seatbelts to be worn at all times in all vehicles.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Ian was just a few hours into his first day at work for Recresco Ltd when this tragic incident occurred. Our investigation revealed a series of failures at the plant, with forklift trucks being used in an area that was completely unsuitable because of the uneven surface created by waste material scattered around the floor. There was also no policy in place for the use of seatbelts. Sadly it was entirely foreseeable that someone was at risk of being badly injured or killed. If the company had taken some simple measures to reduce the risks, such as using the all-terrain vehicles in use elsewhere on the site, then Ian’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

Monday, 8 December 2014

Reduce gap between roller and immediate guard to be as small as possible

I've always used the value of 6mm as a maximum value of the gap between a fixed nip guard and a cylinder or roller.  This is the figure given in HSE guides such as Printing Information Sheet 1 and makes sense as fingers are larger than this.

However, I've just been made aware of an accident where an operator on a laminating machine had his little finger drawn into the gap shown below. We don't know the precise gap as the nip guard was removed to release his finger, but the slack in the fixing holes allow the gap to be between 1mm and 5mm.  Although the roller is made of very stiff rubber, it deformed so that his finger became trapped. 

It may be that this is a freak accident as there are thousands of such immediate guards in place and I am not aware of any similar accidents.  

However, it makes sense for all those who have machinery with such guards to adjust them so that the gap is as small as possible. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Don't get caught out by having poor risk assessments, etc.

Just had another instance where a company had an accident and then decided it would be a good idea to do something about risk and other assessments which they admitted were "somewhat lacking".

And this is from a company who you would otherwise think of as being on the ball.

Don't get caught out like this.

The things to do are to:

  1. Carry out a simple and sensible set of risk assessments including those for fire, substances hazardous to health, etc.
  2. Define control measures including those to keep you in control (such as periodic interlock checks).
  3. Implement a method of getting these across to the people who are affected.

Common mistakes are:

  • Going completely over the top with assessments. You end up with a voluminous manual that nobody uses.
  • Only looking at control measures that need to be done, and ignoring maintenance controls.
  • Having a pristine set of risk assessments, but nobody on the shop floor knows anything about them.
At the bottom of this blog is an example of a CoSHH point-of-use summary from the SSS CoSHH assessment system. We normally laminate these and have them displayed on the wall.

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