Friday, 20 February 2015

Mixture of overridden interlock and loose overalls causes broken neck

Nuneaton Precisions Ltd, of Nuneaton was fined £11,252 (inc. costs) after an employee broke his neck when he was drawn into an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • Interlocks on a spindle moulder had been rendered ineffective.
  • On 18 September 2013, a machinist was machining a piece of nylon when his overalls got tangled in the mchine
  • As well as breaking two bones in his neck, the incident left him with a fractured right shoulder and a split ear which required stitches and plastic surgery. 
  • He was in hospital for eight days and off work for ten months.  He has since returned to work for the company.

The HSE inspector said:
“This was an horrific incident that left a man with multiple serious injuries. It was also an incident that could and should have been prevented. It is a basic premise of health and safety that workers should not be able to come into contact with dangerous moving parts of machinery. By failing to ensure that the interlocks were maintained, workers were put at risk, and one could have very nearly paid with his life.”

Monday, 16 February 2015

Fixed guard removed which resulted in employee's hand being caught

Treforest Textiles of Pontypridd was fined £6184 (inc. costs) after an employee’s hand was caught in machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • On 16 May 2013, Eiron Atkins, who had operated this equipment for 20 years, was unable to start a rotary textile printer.
  • He took off one of the fixed guards on the side of the printer in an effort to let air circulate and dry the machine.
  • The guards had no devices requiring use of a tool to prevent anyone from removing them.
  • As Mr Atkins crouched down to take a better look, he slipped and his hand was dragged into the belt of the printer. 
  • He lost parts of three fingers on his right hand and was off work for ten weeks. 
  • Since the accident he has suffered extreme sensitivity to cold in the injured hand, along with other difficulties caused by loss of motor function in the affected hand.

The HSE Inspector said 
“This incident could have been entirely prevented had Treforest Textiles adequately guarded the machinery. As a result, Mr Atkins suffered permanent significant injuries to his right hand. Companies must assess the safety of their machinery and ensure that moving parts do not endanger their workers by putting adequate guarding in place.”

EDM fined £8k+ for missing guards on lathes

EDM Ltd., a Manchester firm which manufactures flight simulator equipment, was fined £8,332 (inc. costs) for using unsafe machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • EDM did not have a system in place to make sure machines were fitted with guards. 
  • Staff had also not received training on how to use guards, and supervision at the factory was poor.
  • Magistrates heard the firm had identified several missing machine guards in a health and safety document it produced, but failed to take any action.
  • An HSE inspector first visited EDM in September 2013 after receiving an anonymous complaint. 
  • Two Improvement Notices were issued requiring guards to be fitted on two metalworking lathes.
  • The same inspector returned to the site in June 2014 and noticed that guards were missing on two other machines. 
  • This time Prohibition Notices were served to prevent them from being used until guards were fitted

The HSE Inspector said:
“EDM Ltd manufactures equipment used to keep the aviation industry safe but it failed to ensure the safety of its own employees. The Improvement Notices HSE issued in September 2013 should have acted as a wake-up call to improve machine guards but I found guards were still missing when I revisited the factory nine months later. There was simply no point in the company identifying missing guards in a health and safety document if it wasn’t going to act on its findings.”

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Worker loses arm in unguarded machinery

Farnbeck Ltd., an Edinburgh manufacturing company was fined £46,660 after a worker had to have his arm amputated after it became trapped in a machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The company had a machine with a rotating wooden cylinder used in the security printing industry.
  • Cotton fabric is wrapped around this cylinder.
  • This cylinder is exposed and for the last 30 years the company have allowed employees to be exposed to the hazard posed by this rotating cylinder.
  • Consequently no measures were put in place to minimise the risk or to change the systems of work.
  • On  5 June 2012 Akshay Phale, an employee, was attempting to wrap cotton fabric.
  • His fingers became trapped between the fabric and rotating cylinder.
  • He was unable to release his fingers due to the tension of the fabric around the cyclinder. 
  • As the cylinder rotated, it pulled his hand around it, causing his forearm to become trapped. 
  • The fabric was cut to ease the tension, but he was trapped for almost an hour until other employees, together with the fire service, were able to disconnect the motor and release his arm
  • He was taken to hospital where he underwent several operations over a 17-day period, including the amputation of his right forearm below the elbow. 
  • He required several months of physiotherapy and has sustained permanent scarring on his back, arm, leg and right hand. He has not yet been able to return to work.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident was entirely foreseeable and therefore entirely preventable. Where an employee is able to gain access to dangerous moving parts, there is a risk of injury. Farnbeck Ltd should have identified the risk posed to workers on this particular machine and made sure the rotating cylinder was switched off prior to employees coming into close contact with it. This unsafe practice had been carried out for many years and it is fortunate that there have been no other serious incidents as a result.”

Monday, 2 February 2015

Don't have absolute faith in trade associations

Don't get me wrong, as trade associations and federations provide a great service over a broad spectrum of topics.
But the snag is that their range is so broad.
We've just done some work for a client who had a query from their client on certification of materials they supplied.
They were given the run around by their trade federation and in the end came to Strategic Safety Systems who were able to give an answer (that there was no such certification when you are talking about their type of product.)
In specialist areas, talk to the specialists.