Tuesday 28 August 2012

Worker’s leg crushed inside blocked brick machine

A migrant worker suffered crush injuries to his leg when he became trapped inside a poorly-guarded machine at a brick-making factory. Nikoloz Demetrashvili, 42, was working at Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company’s Ltd’s facility in Romsey, Hampshire, when the incident took place on 12 October last year.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Demetrashvili was clearing a blockage from a brick-making machine after two trays had dropped on a brick mould instead of one. He followed company instructions and disabled the pressure-sensitive mats, which were designed to prevent access to the machine, as he needed the machine to have power so he could free the tray. The machine was not in production mode but the sensors were still active.

He climbed inside the machine to reach the tray, which he had done on previous occasions to clear blockages. As he leant over the turntable and pulled the tray, a sensor activated and the turntable rotated, crushing his leg and trapping him inside the machine. He suffered multiple fractures to his right leg and spent three weeks in hospital.

The HSE investigated the incident and issued an Improvement Notice, which required the company to put measures in place to prevent access to the inside of the machine while the power is running.

HSE inspector Daniel Hilbourne said: “Had the pressure mat been configured properly, it would have prevented the machine from operating with anyone near it. Sadly, Mr Demetrashvili has been left with very serious and life-changing injuries because of safety failures that could easily have been avoided. This prosecution is a reminder to firms of the need to carefully consider the risks of machinery and to identify and implement adequate controls to protect their employees.”

Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company appeared in court on 22 August and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.3(1) of the MHSWR 1999, and reg.11(1) of PUWER 1998. It was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £4945 in costs. In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and cooperated with the investigation. It complied with the Improvement Notice by removing a switch that allowed the pressure mat to be overridden.

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