Friday, 24 July 2015

Technibond fined after worker loses finger in unguarded machine

Technibond Limited , an adhesive tape manufacturing company, was fined £6,766 (inc.costs) after a worker lost a finger in an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • A machine had unguarded in-running nips.
  • Perspex guards (supplied by the manufacturer) were available, but not fitted. 
  • Technibond was not aware that these guards were available, though instructions on using the guards are contained within the instruction manual.
  • On 19 August 2014 a worker was cleaning one of the machines whilst it was running. 
  • The cloth she was holding was drawn into the in-running nip which also caused her finger to be pulled in to the machine. 
  • The damage sustained resulted in her finger needing to be amputated.

The HSE Inspector  said:“Employers must ensure they prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery and in doing so they must consider hardware controls over information, instruction, training and supervision. However, where they do rely on these software controls they must ensure that they are effective to prevent anyone being harmed by the machinery.”

370 kg workpiece falls from forklift truck, causing leg fracture.

Paintshop Northern Limited, an HGV spray painting company, was fined £4991 (inc. costs) after an item fell from a forklift truck, causing a serious fracture to a worker's leg.
The circumstances were:
  • On 6 June 2014, two 370 Kg suspension arms were being spray painted.
  • Both of the arms were hanging down from the forks, near the tips, of a forklift truck.
  • These had been raised to a height of 2 metres to allow the spray painting to be done.
  • Neither of the two suspension arms had been secured to the forks of the truck by means of chains or slings. 
  • The worker on the factory floor was trying to assist the truck operator to get the painted suspension arms off the forks when one of them fell off knocking him over and fracturing his leg.

The HSE inspector said: “This employee had a serious injury that could have been far worse as a result of this company’s numerous failures. The whole operation using the fork lift truck to lift heavy materials in an unconventional way was unsafe from start to finish. The load carried needed to be secured to the truck and proper supervision in place to ensure that it was lowered to the ground in a safe way. The injury to this worker was entirely preventable.”

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Worker caught in folding/gluing line

Hipak Packaging Limited, a Buxton packaging company was fined £5,138 (inc. costs) after a worker sustained a serious injury to his right hand.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a folding/gluing line for cardboard boxes.
  • In October 2013, an employee was cleaning a moving roller this line.
  • He reached inside and suffered serious damage to two fingers on his right hand.

The HSE Inspector said:“This accident was clearly avoidable. The company failed to provide a safe system of work for employees who needed to clean glue off rollers from their folding and gluing machine. It was left up to the employees to decide how they went about this and the company should have instructed and trained their staff in a safe procedure which involved ensuring the machine was isolated from power before employees put their hands inside it.”

Director removed guard from machine, which caused worker to lose his arm.

Mark Anton Arabaje, sole director of now-dissolved company Cartwright Projects Ltd., was given a 4-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay £5,000 compensation after a worker lost his right forearm when it got caught  in an unguarded tyre-shredding machine.
The circumstances were:
  • Mr Arabaje had removed removed the metal bucket guard of the shredding machine earlier the same month as the accident, thus allowing easy access to the metal teeth.
  • On 27 November 2013, Nathan Johnson was feeding this machine.
  • There were no emergency stop switches within his reach.
  • He had been putting tyres by hand into the shredder when the machine failed to grip one properly on its metal teeth. Mr Johnson grabbed the remaining half and fed it in. 
  • At that point, his right jacket sleeve got entangled on the metal teeth and his fingers and then forearm were dragged into the running shredder.
  • As Mr Johnson screamed for help, Mr Arabaje came and managed to switch the machine off and freed him from the machine.
  • He lost the forearm up to his elbow and needed extensive hospital treatment, including skin grafts from his left leg to replace the remains of his arm and a bolt in his elbow to ensure it remained intact.

The HSE stated that it would have also prosecuted the company had it still existed.
The HSE Inspector said:“Nathan Johnson would never have suffered these horrific, life-changing injuries if Mr Arabaje, the company director, had not removed the guard from the tyre-shredder. Company directors need to take their health and safety responsibilities seriously to prevent such tragic events occurring in the future. They have a significant role to play in protecting workers from injury at work; and this case demonstrates that such incidents can and do lead to directors being prosecuted if there is evidence of their consent, connivance or neglect to breaches in the law.”

Friday, 10 July 2015

Owner of car body repair company fined £5600 for failing to comply with 2 improvement notices.

Christopher Hutton, trading as Auto Bodyworks and Wheel Clinic, was fined £5600 for failing to comply with two improvement notices.
The circumstances were:
During an inspection on 30th April 2014, the HSE determined that Mr Hutton had not carried out:
  • Examination of the test spray booth, and
  • Health surveillance of employees exposed to isocyanates (which can cause respiratory sensitisation).

Mr Hutton was served with Improvement Notices including:
  • Improvement Notice I/300414/EW1, 
  • Improvement Notice I/300414/EW2 .
Mr Hutton had been given a number of opportunities to comply with the Improvement Notices but had failed to do so. He was therefore prosecuted.
The HSE inspector commented:
“Exposure to isocyanate containing paints is the main cause of occupational asthma in the UK. There are well established standards to protect the health of employees which Christopher Hutton had failed to achieve.”

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Repeat crane accident causes major injury

Leeds Galvanising & Powder Coating Ltd, was fined £13,000, with full costs after a repeat of an object falling from a crane.
The circumstances were:
  • On 14 September 2011, ineffective safety latches on a crane hook caused an object to fall from an overhead crane. 
  • Following an HSE investigation, the company was told to re-instate the safety catches.
  • However, since the 2011 incident, the use of safety catches lapsed.
  • In March 2014, an employee was operating a pendant controlled  overhead crane and he began to lower a loaded jig to the ground.
  • As the metal products made contact with the floor in the vertical position it lifted the left end of the jig off the hook because there was no safety catch. 
  • The end of the jig came free and swung down hitting one of the other employees.
  • He broke two ribs, fractured his pelvis and punctured a lung.
  • He was off work for nine months and had to undergo six months of physiotherapy.  

The HSE inspector said:“Lifting operations can put workers at serious risk of injury if they’re not carried out properly, as well as incurring significant costs when they go wrong. It is therefore important to provide suitable equipment for the task, and properly plan lifting operations before work commences to ensure it is done safely. In this case the accident was easily preventable. By failing to provide lifting equipment with working safety catches, a worker suffered serious injuries and other employees were also put at risk.”

Worker becomes entangled in lathe after guard interlock was overridden.

Propbrook Engineering Limited, was fined £13,178 (inc. costs) after a worker broke bones in his left arm and both wrists when he was entangled on a lathe.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a CNC lathe which was supposed to be protected by an interlocked guard.
  • This had been defeated, allow the machine to run with the guard open.
  • On 14 May 2014, Brendan Hayes was polishing a prop shaft on this machine.
  • He was using emery cloth and became entangled in the rotating prop shaft.

The HSE inspector said:“Mr Hayes was using emery cloth to finish polishing the prop shaft in the computer numerical controlled (CNC) lathe. The machine had an interlocked guard which would have prevented him doing this work in the unsafe manner that ultimately caused his serious injuries, but this had been defeated. Polishing with emery cloth should never take place on CNC lathes. There was a disconnect between the company’s risk assessment and the way tasks were actually carried out on the shop floor. This led to unsafe systems of work, which caused a relatively inexperienced employee to suffer serious injuries. It is only down to luck that Mr Hayes was not more seriously injured – amputations, even fatalities, have occurred in similar incidents.”

Friday, 3 July 2015

Robot kills worker at VW plant

There was a recent accident at a VW plant in Germany where a worker was killed by a fixed robot.
The wording in the media reports make it sound like something out of Asimov where the robot had "turned on his master and grabbed him". The reports then questioned who should be prosecuted, implying that the robot itself could be capable of being prosecuted.

There are effectively two type of robots:

  • Moving vehicles, which sense their surroundings and stop if they find anything, like a person, who should not be there, and 
  • Fixed robots which carry out specific manipulation and similar tasks.

Fixed robots normally have no person sensing devices and must be regarded as being like any other piece of machinery. The thing that makes them dangerous is that their range of reach is normally quite large.
Such devices must be in a protected area (as was the robot on which the accident occurred) and entry into the protected area must be via suitable interlocks or lock-out isolation. It looks like there was no such isolation.

So, let's just forget about the emotive "robot out of control" scenario and remember that ANY machinery can be unsafe and suitable isolation needs to be applied before anyone enters the protected area.