Friday 23 August 2013

Pirelli fined £24,000 after worker breaks arm during maintenance operation

Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has appeared in court after an employee sustained major injuries to his left arm when it became trapped in a tyre-testing machine.
The circumstances were:
  • On 3 January 2012, there was a fault on the machine, which lubricates, inflates and then measures tyres, which occurred when it was switched back on following the Christmas shutdown.
  • The fault had occurred several times in the past after the machine was restarted following previous Christmas shutdowns.
  • Pirelli had failed to carry out a specific risk assessment for this maintenance work.
  • There was limited supervision of the maintenance employees
  • General knowledge of the company's written health and safety procedures was poor. 
  • There was no system in place to check that the company's Safe Working Procedures guidelines were being followed in practice.
  • The worker was trying to fix this fault.
  • He switched it to manual mode and removed one of the guards to repair the fault in the lubricating part of the machine. The employee then returned the machine to automatic mode and it processed two tyres successfully before becoming struck again.
  • Without thinking, he reached back into the machine which then began operating, trapping his arm.
  • He broke his arm in three places

Pirelli Tyres Ltd, was fined £24,330 (inc. costs) on 21 August 2013.
The HSE Inspector said:
"A moment's lapse in concentration left an employee with major injuries to his left arm because Pirelli's management of the risks from maintenance work wasn't good enough. The fault with the machine had occurred before, following previous Christmas breaks, but the company didn't have a specific risk assessment in place to make sure it could be fixed safely. Although Pirelli did have written Safe Working Procedures, they were not effective because the employees were either unaware of them or weren't following them, and no effort was made to check that the procedures were being followed. This incident could have been avoided if Pirelli had done more to make sure that risks were being properly assessed and its employees were following safe working practices."

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