Unsafe machinery lands manufacturer in court  

Workers having body parts slashed, crushed and fractured… doesn’t this bring to mind images of a Victorian workhouse?

Tragically, such injuries are very much part of modern day working. In fact, workers suffer 40,000 such injuries every year including a dozen or so deaths.

And the cause?

Well, Sheffield Magistrates’ Court recently heard in an all too familiar tale of woe how a worker suffered life changing injuries after being drawn into unguarded machinery.

The worker was clearing material from a discharge chute. But a still-rotating spiked roller inside the chute was unguarded and grabbed the worker’s hand. The seriousness of the injury meant surgeons had to amputate it.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the soft toy filling company over the incident.

Stuffing Plant Ltd pleaded guilty to breaking the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974.

It was fined £35,000 with £2,480 costs.

Controls needed

The HSE said the injury could have been prevented if:

  • suitable and sufficient planning had been completed
  • correct control measures were identified and put in place

Common causes of machine injury

Common causes of injury involving machinery include:

  • inadequate training – workers are often asked to operate machinery with little or no training
  • operating machinery without protective gear
  • faulty machinery – machinery that’s not maintained can be just as dangerous as when operated without suitable guarding

All machines pose a certain amount of risk if not maintained, used or guarded properly.

Employer responsibility

The HSWA says controls must be in place and all machines used properly. As an employer you must:

  • carry out machinery risk assessments
  • regularly maintain machinery
  • give priority to necessary repairs
  • make sure all staff handling machines have the necessary training
  • provide employees with relevant protective gear and make sure it’s always fully worn when operating machinery

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 also make clear:

  • equipment used by employees must be suitable, maintained and inspected
  • workers must have necessary machine and equipment safety training
  • employers should remove risks where possible or control them as far as reasonably practicable

Don’t hesitate to contact Ellis Whittam if you need help managing risks in your work place.

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Nick Wilson

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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