Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Glasgow company fined after worker's hand was drawn into unguarded in-running nip

Manufacturing firm Promat Glasgow Ltd was fined £4000 for serious safety failings after a worker was injured when his arm was caught between a conveyor belt and roller in a Glasgow factory.
The circumstances were:

  • Gordon Blackwood was working with a colleague cleaning a conveyor in the press area at the company’s premises on 30 August 2012.
  • While Promat Glasgow Ltd had assessed the risks of various tasks within the factory, it had failed to identify the hazard from the in-running nip point on this belt conveyor.
  • As a result, there were no control measures in place to prevent workers gaining access to the danger zone represented by the in–running nip point.
  • The cleaning cycle required the operators to start a cleaning programme on the computer in the press cabin, after which the machine would be stopped and the operator would go into the press area to hose down the press and clean off any spilled mix.
  • The operator would then return to the cabin to run a ‘felt’ wash programme, while at the same time keeping an eye on the felt to ensure it was tracking correctly.
  • Mr Blackwood and his colleague had reached the felt wash part of the process when it was noticed the belt was not running centrally. Mr Blackwood remained in the press area while his colleague went into the cabin to start the conveyor to realign it.
  • They signalled each other before the machine was switched on, but when the belt was moving Mr Blackwood then spotted the spilled mix and attempted to clear it manually before the machine was switched off.
  • He attempted to scrape it off using his gloved right hand, but as his hand touched the conveyor it was pulled into an in-running nip between the roller and underside of the belt conveyor.
  • He suffered a compound fracture to his wrist and tendon damage to two fingers. He had to have surgery to insert a metal plate in his wrist, which has left him weakened as a result. He still suffers pain in his wrist and fingers.
  • Following the incident a fixed guard was installed around the in-running nip point.
The HSE Inspector said:
“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The dangers of nip points, or the gaps between a moving belt and a stationary part of a machine, are well-known. Promat Glasgow Limited should have carried out a full assessment of the risks to workers for all the tasks involved in the production of the insulation boards. That would have identified the hazards in the press area and the right action, such as introducing guards, could have been added as necessary. As a result of the company’s failings, Mr Blackwood suffered injuries to his right arm which still cause him problems.”

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