Sunday, 30 August 2015

Inadequate guarding leads to disfigurement and £12,000 fine.

Paulamar Company Ltd. a  Kirkintilloch manufacturer of foam plastics and rubber materials was fined £12,000 after a lack of guarding lead to a teenage worker being permanently disfigured. 
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on an adhesive backing machine with inadequate safety guarding.
  • On 28 January 2013, a 19-year-old worker was feeding flat foam sheets into the adhesive machine which had rollers with unguarded in-running nips.
  • One sheet curled up before it reached the rollers. 
  • The worker used his right hand to flatten the sheet but it stuck to the adhesive and was taken into the rollers.
  • The stop bar on the machine was hit and another employee manually moved the rollers up off his hand.   
  • He was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where doctors found he had suffered a broken knuckle on his middle finger and a broken index finger on his right hand, had deep lacerations to the palm of his hand with swelling and bruising to the back of his hand. 
  • He has been left with two visible scars and a burn mark on the back of his right hand and was off work for six months. 

Coilcolor fined £103,000 for cooling tower failings

Coilcolor Limited in Newport, a steel coating company in Newport, Gwent, was fined £103,393 (inc. costs) for failing to manage the risks from legionella bacteria from two cooling towers over a period of five years.
The circumstances were:
  • Coilcoler have cooling towers which require management to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. This can lead to fatal illnesses.
  • They had been operating two cooling towers on site without taking appropriate measures to control the risk of proliferation of the bacteria since 2009.
  • The risks from the operation of the cooling towers had not been assessed.
  • There was no written scheme.
  • The towers were in poor condition.
    Drift eliminators to reduce the spread of aerosol were missing.
  • There was no water treatment programme in place.
  • Staff had not been trained to appreciate and manage the risks.
  • Prohibition Notices were immediately served by the HSE inspector that prevented the cooling towers being used until all appropriate controls were put in place. 
  • Improvement Notices were then served with regard to risk assessment and management. 
The HSE Inspector said: 
“Operating cooling towers, without proper controls in place can present a significant risk to employees and members of the public; in this case the company operates next to a housing estate and within one kilometre of the Royal Gwent Hospital.” 

Chromalloy fined £177,000 for cooling tower failings

Chromalloy UK Limited, who refurbishes turbine blades at sites in Eastwood in Nottinghamshire and Somercotes in Derbyshire, was fined £177,252 (inc. costs) for failing to manage the risk to public and employees to potentially fatal legionella bacteria for over a year, from May 2011.
The circumstances were:
  • Both sites have cooling towers which require management to prevent the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. This can lead to fatal illnesses.
  • Two improvement notices were served on the company in 2008 seeking improvements on rusting towers and a number of management failures. All the notices were complied with.
  • A laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from the Somercotes site before the HSE investigation found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system. 
  • As well as failing to maintain its infrastructure, Chromalloy did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels. 
  • An HSE inspector visited the Somercotes site in May 2012, 
  • During this visit, he felt spray on his face and saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded. 
  • He extended his visit to the rest of the Somercotes factory plus the company’s site at Eastwood, and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.
  • The HSE issued four improvement notices in June 2012 on Chromalloy requiring inlet screens to be placed on the cooling towers to stop debris falling in them which could encourage legionella growth, and for corroded items of plant to be replaced. 

The HSE inspector said:
“The company’s water treatment programme and associated management arrangements were found to be severely ineffective.  
Chromalloy UK Limited was grossly complacent in its attempts to manage the risks arising from legionella bacteria in its cooling towers at two separate locations. HSE intervened in 2008 but the company did not sustain any improvements made. There were serious risks to employees and members of the public becoming infected with legionnaires’ disease due to this company’s failure to do all that was reasonably practicable to control the proliferation of legionella bacteria in their cooling towers. Employers must understand the health risks associated with legionella and take the necessary precautions to control or reduce risks arising from evaporative cooling systems.” 

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Tyneside company fined for disabling guards, yet again

Mullins (Earby) Limited, a Jarrow engineering firm was fined £14,939 (inc. costs) for deliberately compromising the safety guards on machinery for production reasons.
The circumstances were:

  • The company uses computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines, including machining centres, milling machines and drilling machines, all of which have a sliding door which is interlocked to the machine control system.
  • The company had been served with HSE Improvement Notices regarding ineffective interlocks following an inspection in 2008 and a letter sent in 2012 highlighting similar issues
  • In February this year, an HSE inspector found the interlocks had been deliberately defeated on three CNC machining centres and a CNC milling machine and the interlock was broken on a CNC drilling machine.
The HSE inspector said:
“The deliberate defeating of safety devices in any workplace is not acceptable. 
This company had received advice on two previous occasions in relation to the guarding standards on CNC machines and had not taken appropriate action. HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against companies who continually flout health and safety law and put their employees at risk.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Timber firm fined after circular saw accident

Main Line Timber Limited, a timber gate manufacturer in Daventry was fined £11,000 (inc.costs) after a young employee lost two fingers on his left hand while working on machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The company had failed to ensure that required safety features were installed on a circular saw and to maintain the condition of the top guard on the saw.
  • It was not fitted with a riving knife or ‘take off’ table.
  • There was an unsafe system of work in place.
  • In addition to these failings, employees did not received adequate training for use of the saw.
  • On 25 July 2014 a 27-year-old employee was working on the saw alone
  • He was both feeding and removing large pieces of timber from the saw when a piece of wood snagged and pulled his left hand into the blade. 
  • The employee’s left hand was severely injured, and his little finger and ring finger were subsequently amputated.   

The HSE Inspector  said: “Had the company taken suitable measures to ensure workers did not come into contact with the rotating blade, had the saw been properly guarded and fitted with relevant safety features and had employees been provided with adequate training, this young man would not have lost two of his fingers.” 

DS Smith fined £400,000 after death of worker

DS Smith Paper Ltd, was fined £434,761 (inc. costs) following the death of a manager who became trapped in unguarded machinery at a Devon paper mill.
The circumstances were:
  • DS Smith Paper failed to act on 73 urgent recommendations in a specialist safety report compiled 11 months before the accident.
  • Of these 73, there were 33 that should have been addressed within 24 hours. Many of the recommendations called for improved guards to prevent access to moving machinery.
  • Some of the concerns raised in the safety report were categorised as very high risk – needing attention within a day – and high risk – needing fixing within a week.
  • The accident occurred on  machine where paper pulp passed along a felt conveyor where water is squeezed out of the pulp mixture.
  • On 24 September 2011, creases were occurring in the paper.
  • It was common practice to climb on a work platform above the conveyor.
  • No risk assessment had been carried out for work which needed to be carried out to find the cause of creases and for working on the gantry.
  • There was no guarding on the belt.
  • John Stoddart, who was the company’s operations manager, was trying to identify a problem. 
  • He climbed onto the work platform to check if the creases were caused by problems on the moving felt belt.
  • Although no-one saw what exactly happened to Mr Stoddart, he apparently was smoothing out the felt when his hand became trapped in an in-running nip. 
  • There was no guard on the machinery and he was flipped into the machine, causing fatal crush injuries.
  • Suitable guarding was installed shortly after the accident.

The HSE Inspector said:
“DS Smith’s failure to guard a dangerous piece of moving machinery tragically cost Mr Stoddart his life and has left his family without a husband, father and brother. Potentially dangerous machinery should always be guarded and turned-off when workers need access to repair faults. A proper risk assessment would have highlighted these dangers and established safe practices for staff instead of putting their lives at risk.”