Tuesday 23 July 2013

Company fined £175,000 after man was crushed by falling machinery.

Special Metals Wiggin Ltd. of Hereford has been fined after an employee suffered life-threatening injuries when he was crushed and burned by falling machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a casting machine, of which there were 33 in the factory
  • The system of work for removing ingot moulds from the casting machine was unsafe 
  • It involved using overhead cranes to pull the moulds free, which damaged the bolts and their fixing points. 
  • This, coupled with the company’s failure to have a proper maintenance programme in place, led to the mechanical failure of the machine.
  • Stephen Bond-Lewis was removing waste material from the casting machine when part of it became detached, fell forward and pinned him against a nearby storage bin.
  • The falling machinery weighed 964 kilogrammes and had a temperature of between 100 and 250°C
  • Mr Bond-Lewis suffered severe burns to 25 per cent of his body, namely his abdomen, chest and left arm, half of which were full thickness burns. He required skin grafts, while his crush injuries meant he also had to have part of his bowel removed. He had to go into intensive care and was on life support for 18 hours.
  • A second employee severed the tip of the ring finger on his left hand in the incident, on 8 May 2009, while trying to free him
  • All of the 33 machines had the same fault.
Special Metals Wiggin Ltd., was fined £175,000 (inc. costs) on 22nd July 2013.
The HSE inspector said:
"The company failed to make sure there were suitable safe systems in place for removing moulds from its casting machines. Yanking moulds free with the crane caused damage to bolts and their fixings and directly resulted in the collapse of the machine. The fixing bolts on a large number of casting machines were in poor repair, but this had not been spotted or put right because routine maintenance checks were not being carried out. We also found that the operators responsible for maintaining the machines had not received training and instructions in the replacement of damaged bolts. This was an extremely serious incident and Mr Bond-Lewis is fortunate to be alive today. His injuries were life-changing and he has suffered physically and emotionally. He knows he will never be able to work as a foundryman again – a job that he loved."

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