Manufacturer fined after machinery incident

A metal firm has been fined after a steelworker suffered a serious hand injury.

The company admitted breaking Health & Safety law in failing to protect workers from the dangers of using machinery.

The employee who was wearing protective gloves had been feeding narrow steel rods through moving rollers. His hand was dragged into the bending machine when a glove became caught in the rollers.

The firm had carried out risk assessments on two larger more frequently used bending machines. But it failed to assess the smaller one involved in the incident.

Crucial

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) said ‘There was no need for people’s hands to be up close to the rollers on the big machines – and that was the crucial difference’.

A HSE investigation found the company had not taken measures to:

  • prevent access to the moving rollers
  • stop the rollers moving before anyone entered the danger zone

A warning sign had been put up after an earlier albeit less serious incident. It stated gloves were not to be worn due to the increased risk of getting caught up in rollers. However, the sign wasn’t very obvious.

The HSE say various safeguards could have been put in place.

The HSE said the key was risks needed to be identified and crucially communicated to the shop floor.

Exemplary record

A J Metal Products Limited pleaded guilty to breaking the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The family firm claimed it was ‘well-run’ and that lessons had been learned.

While the judge accepted it had an ‘exemplary record’ in looking after employees and that remorse was genuine, he imposed a £23,300 fine along with £1,900 costs.

The HSE said the incident could have been prevented if steps had been taken to control the risk of hands being pulled into the machine.

It added ‘Employers should make sure they properly assess and apply effective control measures to minimise the risk from dangerous parts of machinery’.

Health & Safety statistics for the manufacturing sector show 12% of non-fatal injuries involve contact with machinery (Source: Non-fatal injuries reported under RIDDOR 2014/15-2016/17).

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