Wednesday, 24 December 2014

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.”

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