Tuesday 6 August 2013

Overridden interlock almost costs worker his finger

Quickmach Engineering Pressings Ltd., an engineering company of Cinderford,  has been fined after an employee injured his hand on a machine where a safety lock had been deliberately disabled.
The circumstances were:
  • The machine was a large Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) milling machine.
  • An interlock switch to the sliding access door of the machine had been dismantled and deliberately disabled.
  • On 12th November 2012, an experienced machinist entered the machine to clear swarf with a stick. 
  • His right hand slipped and came into contact with a rotating cutter, which cut and almost severed his index finger.
  • Had the interlock switch been working it would not have been possible to enter the machine until the cutter had stopped rotating.
  • An HSE investigation found that the guard had been overridden for at least 2 years.
  • Despite this serious incident, when HSE visited the company a month later, they found that the machine was still being used in exactly the same way, with a disabled interlock.

Quickmach Engineering Pressings Ltd,  was fined £6,121 (inc costs).
The HSE Inspector said:
"This was a completely needless and entirely preventable incident that left an employee with a painful injury. The CNC machine had been fitted with safety devices by the manufacturer, but Quickmach had allowed employees to deliberately dismantle them - a practice that had continued unchallenged for at least two years. Regular checks or visual inspection would have immediately identified that the switch had been deliberately disabled. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies where key safety devices such as interlock switches are manipulated in this way. Interlock switches are fitted to protect operators - they should not be overridden and management should not turn a blind eye to such practices."

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