Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Unguarded machine causes major injuries at RSM Castings

RSM Castings Ltd was fined £33,739 (inc.costs) after an employee
 suffered severe crush injuries while working on a mould making machine.

The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a moulding machine on 11 April 2018
  • There was inadequate safeguarding to prevent access between the closing pattern parts of the moulding machine.
  • The employee was attempting to light the burners on the machine.
  • While he leant into the machine the pattern plate closed on his head and upper body.
  • He suffered extensive injuries, including a broken neck, back fractures, broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade, a ruptured spleen, torn liver, a punctured lung, facial fractures and loss of teeth. He remains unable to return to work as a result of his injuries.

The HSE Inspector commented:
“This case highlights the importance of foundries checking guarding on their machines and not to be complacent about machinery safety. In this case RSM Castings failed to ensure that the machine was guarded to the correct standard and it could have easily resulted in a fatal injury.”

Monday, 29 July 2019

Company fined £16,181 for non-compliance with Improvement Notices

Kitchen worktop manufacturing company, The Solid Surface Shop UK Ltd was fined £16,181(inc. costs)  for non-compliance of Improvement Notices and failure to effectively manage health and safety.
The circumstances were:
  • The HSE inspected the premises in March 2016.
  • There was a poor standard of health and safety management including significant accumulations of dust.
  • Local exhaust ventilation units present were not subject to thorough examination and test.
  • No CoSHH assessments had been completed.
  • The company was served with five Improvement Notices which were hand delivered to site and discussed with two of the directors. 
  • The notices required thorough examination of local exhaust ventilation, monitoring for dusts including respirable crystalline silica, a system to manage respiratory protective equipment and assessments of the risk from noise and hand arm vibration.
  • Despite extensions to the compliance dates for all the notices being given, repeated phone calls, emails and letters, no appeals or evidence of compliance was ever received by HSE. 
  • A company representative attended an interview under caution but did not provide any reasonable explanations for the non-compliance.

The HSE inspector said after the hearing:
“Improvement notices must be complied with. 
Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”

Unguarded circular saw severs 3 fingers and results in suspended prison sentence

Andrew Gibson, who at the time was trading as Crosby Kitchens, was given a suspended jail sentence for safety breaches after a worker suffered life changing injuries.
The circumstances were:
  • On 19 October 2016, an employee was using an Elektra Beckum table saw to cut down some large 2.4m x 2.4m sheets of chipboard.
  • The crown guard and riving knife were not fixed to the machine. 
  • He was not using an appropriate pushstick or jig which would have kept his hand and fingers away from the moving blade.
  • His right hand made contact with the unguarded saw blade and three of his fingers were severed. 
  • After the incident he was taken to hospital by Mr Gibson. 
  • Two of his fingers were reattached at the hospital but the third finger was never found.
  • There was no Employer’s Liability (Compulsory Insurance) policy in place.

Gibson was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, and 200 hours of unpaid work. 
He was also ordered to pay £17,000 compensation to the injured employee.
The HSE inspector commented:
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing suitable control measures and safe working practices. 
Dangerous parts of machinery should be appropriately guarded as required by the legislation, in order to protect employees.”

Friday, 26 July 2019

Minteq fined £223,217 after employee was killed whilst using a pedestrian walkway that ran down the centre of a roadway used by vehicles

Minteq UK, a Birmingham company trading as Specialty Minerals that manufactures chemicals used in sealants and pharmaceuticals, was fined £223,217 (inc.costs) after an employee was struck and killed by a forklift truck while walking in an area of the site designated for pedestrians.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on an external pedestrian walkway that ran down the centre of the roadway used by vehicles.
  • The pedestrian walkway formed part of a roadway connecting the car park to the rear of the site.
  • There were inadequate measures in place to separate pedestrians from vehicles at the plant.
  • The HSE served an improvement notice against Minteq UK on 3 August 2017, which highlighted that the site road was not organised in such a way that vehicles and pedestrians could circulate in a safe manner.  Minteq had complied with this.
  • The accident occurred to Christine Workman who was using this designated, but unprotected, pedestrian walkway.
  • Workman suffered severe crush injuries and died 15 days later at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

The HSE inspector said: “Far too many people are killed and seriously injured by vehicles in the workplace every year. Provisional data for 2018/19 shows that of the 147 workers fatally injured, 30 of them were as a result of being struck by a moving vehicle. Many hundreds are left with life-changing injuries. The requirement to ensure adequate separation and segregation between pedestrians and vehicles is paramount. This tragic and wholly avoidable incident highlights the need for companies to comply with their legal duty to identify what can kill and seriously hurt people in their workplace and take steps to stop that happening.”

Wheelnut fined £33,718 after a teenage apprentice was overcome by fumes in an ‘acid room'

Alloy wheel repair company Wheelnut was fined £33,718 (inc.costs) after a teenage apprentice was overcome by fumes in an ‘acid room'
The circumstances were:
  • Wheelnut failed to properly risk-assess the chemical wheel stripping process. 
  • As a result, Wheelnut had not implemented appropriate control measures, such as an exhaust ventilation system.
  • Although staff were provided with respiratory protection equipment (RPE) it was not maintained in efficient worker order nor in good repair. Several parts of it were damaged and the air feed to it from the compressor was not filtered correctly.
  • Employees were not provided with suitable information, instruction and training on the risks involved with using the chemicals, particularly dichloromethane (DCM). 
  • On 12 December 2017, the apprentice entered the acid room to retrieve wheels.
  • These wheels were in a barrel filled with an alloy wheel stripping substance made up of DCM, methanol and hydrofluoric acid. 
  • He was not wearing RPE.
  • He was found by a colleague, unconscious and slumped over the barrel.

The HSE inspector said: 
“A young worker suffered a potentially serious injury. Breathing in DCM vapour can produce narcotic effects and, at high concentrations, unconsciousness and death. In this instance, the boy made a full recovery, but it could have easily resulted in his death.”

DCM poses inhalation risks and is a restricted substance under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation.

A similar incident several years ago with an alloy wheel repair company using DCM resulted in a fatality and prison sentences for two directors.

Delphi Diesel Systems fined £1m after explosion injures two workers

Delphi Diesel Systems fined £1m after explosion injures two workers.

The circumstances were:
  • Two employees at Delphi Diesel Systems were cleaning a component washer’s distillation tank on 11 July 2017.
  • They were using a flammable chemical.
  • There was no risk assessment or safe system of work for using flammable chemicals to clean the distillation tank.
  • The vapour ignited, triggering an explosion
  • Both workers sustained severe injuries; one employee’s burns were so serious that he could not return to work for more than two months.

The HSE inspector Paul Thompson said:
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe systems of work, and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in those systems, as well as the substances they use.
If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the injuries suffered by the employees could have been prevented.”

BAM Nuttall fined more than £800,000 after a worker was struck by a large expanded polystyrene block

BAM Nuttall was fined more than £800,000 after a worker was struck by a large expanded polystyrene (EPS) block.
The circumstances were:
  • EPS blocks were being lifted in an excavator bucket on 20 January 2017.
  • The lifting operation had not been properly planned.
  • BAM had not used appropriate lifting accessories, such as chains or strops, to transport the load; the block was simply held between the arm of the excavator and the bucket
  • A block fell and hit him on the head, fracturing three of his vertebrae.

The HSE inspector said:
“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply using appropriate lifting accessories such as chains and strops to carry out the lifting operation.”


Hanson Quarry Products Europe fined £411,000 after employee loses 4 fingers during a lifting operation

Hanson Quarry Products Europe were fined £411,000 (inc.costs) after an employee lost four fingers due to poor lifting operations when a large metal gate slipped off the tines of a forklift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident happened at their Kings Cross site in London on 27 September 2016.
  • A large metal gate was being lifted using a forklift truck.
  • The company had failed to plan and supervise the lifting operation.
  • The gate was attached to the forklift with a chain on an “O-ring” that was slotted on to the tines with nothing to prevent it sliding off.
  • The gate fell as it was being lifted, slicing the worker’s hand as it fell to the floor.  

The HSE inspector said:
“The use of forklift truck, chain and O-ring was unsafe, putting workers at unnecessary risk. This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply having a competent person plan a safe lifting operation and providing adequate supervision to ensure the lifting operation was carried out safely.”

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

HSE require local exhaust ventilation on CNC machines

Because of health concerns with metalworking fluid mists, the Health and Safety Executive expect to see exhaust ventilation in place.

Although materials safety data sheets (MSDSs) may not state this, the HSE still require it. Similarly, the Machinery Directive or the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations make no reference to such health considerations.  Therefore, there is no present obligation on machine tool suppliers to make provision for it, and it is no defence on the employer's part to claim that the supplier should have done it.

It is likely that the absence of LEV will result in an Improvement Notice being issued.

The HSE expect to see either local units, such as those from Filtermist, or ducted extraction to outside the building.

Where machines have open tops, then the HSE expect to see these closed to minimise fugitive emissions.

These requirements are for CNC machines where high rotation speeds cause misting.