Saturday 28 September 2013

Missing safety guard causes major hand injury

Howard Hunts (City) Ltd., were fined £15,400 (inc. costs) after a hand injury due to an unguarded printing press.
The circumstances were:
  • Adequate risk assessments had not been carried out, which would have established a safe method of operating the press.
  • Training provision was inadequate, and the injured worker had received no training or instruction on the safety features of the press.
  • Guards should have been in place to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the roller system on the printing press while it was running, but these had been removed four days earlier for cleaning and had not been replaced.
  • In addition to the injured worker, seven other people had also operated the machine with the protective safety guards removed. All were therefore placed at unnecessary risk.
  • The injured worker was using a printer's knife when filling an ink reservoir that fed rollers transporting ink to printing plates.
  • The knife stuck as he was filling the ink reservoir and his right hand was pulled between two rotating rollers and 'de-gloved', with the skin ripped away from the back of his hand. 
  • He managed to stop the machine using an emergency stop button before pulling himself free and alerting colleagues.

The HSE Inspector  said:
"The painful injury the worker sustained could have been avoided had the guards been in place when the press was running. A proper risk assessment would have identified the requirement of a safe system of work, and the necessity of proper training on how to safely use the machine.  Incidents of this kind occur all too often in the printing industry, and the onus is on companies like Howard Hunt to take adequate steps to control risks and protect their workforce."

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Aesica Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a North East pharmaceutical company, has been fined £107,803 (inc. costs) for a serious safety breach which left a worker fighting for his life in hospital.
The circumstances were:
  • In 2007 a bromine bulk storage tank failed its insurance inspection and
  • Its planned replacement was postponed until 2012.
  • The tank had been taken out of service which included removing short sections of connecting pipework. 
  • The removal left the rest of the pipework, including some valves, suspended from a set of flexible bellows which allowed movement in the pipework, but were not designed to be weight-bearing.
  • The bolts on the bellows were badly corroded increasing the likelihood that they would rupture under any stress.
  • Over the next five years while pipework at one end was disconnected, the other end was still connected to pipework for filling an adjacent tank with bromine, which left it contaminated.
  • A further section of bromine pipework, which could also have become contaminated with bromine, was also inadequately supported.
  • When a worker subsequently removed cables from a valve, the bellows failed releasing 7L of bromine over him. 
  • Bromine is classified as potentially fatal if inhaled and can cause severe skin burns. The employee spent 48 hours in a life-threatening condition after inhaling the corrosive substance and also suffered severe skin burns and damage to one eye.
  • He was in hospital for four weeks and continues to receive treatment for his injuries. He has not yet returned to work.

The HSE Inspector said:
"This was a serious incident with potentially fatal consequences which was readily preventable. All employers and particularly those handling dangerous chemicals must not assume a lack of previous incidents means risks are adequately controlled. Measures must be in place to ensure, through robust audit and review that this is due to effective management and not just good fortune. Maintaining the mechanical integrity of process plant and pipework is essential to preventing the loss of hazardous chemicals. Any changes to plant must be carefully assessed to ensure it does not increase the risk of failure. Measures must be in place through an on-going programme of maintenance and inspection to ensure the continued integrity of the plant according to risk.

Unsafe stacking causes head injury

A Runcorn-based boat manufacturer has been fined after an employee's head was crushed against the top of a lorry container.

The circumstances were:

  • A worker had been lying on top of a stack of kayaks to pull the last ones into a container on 2 March 2011.
  • The company had used this method of loading kayaks for several years, despite employees requesting a ramp to be built to make it easier to load the boats into containers.
  • The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment or provide employees with suitable training. 
  • The work was not properly planned 
  • There was poor communication between the forklift driver and the man in the container.
  • As the worker tried to climb from the container into a cage to be lifted down to the ground by a forklift truck, the forks were raised and he was crushed against the top of the container.
  • The worker sustained a torn ear, three chipped teeth, nerve pain and required several stitches.

Pyranha Mouldings Ltd, was fined £56,562 (inc costs).
The HSE Inspector said:
"The company should never have used a cage to lift workers down from containers, but it allowed this practice to happen over several years. The employee could easily have been killed when he was crushed against the top of the container. Employees had raised concerns about this method and suggested using a ramp instead, but it was only after this incident that Pyranha Mouldings took any action to improve safety. If a ramp had been available at the time of the incident then the employee's injuries could have been avoided. This case shows how important it is that companies listen to their workers and implement safe systems of work."

Thursday 19 September 2013

Worker loses 4 fingers in saw

A Cumbrian manufacturer of wooden doors and window frames has been fined for safety failings after an employee's fingers were severed by a rotating saw.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a circular saw on 2 March 2011.
  • There was no guard over the part of the machine where the wood came out from under the saw
  • This meant it was possible to reach the saw blade while it was still rotating.
  • The worker was feeding long pieces of wood through the machine.
  • He then put a piece of wood into the machine's exit so it could be recalibrated for the next job when his right hand was struck by the blade, which was still rotating.
  • He lost parts of all four fingers on his right hand 

The New West Port Corporation Ltd, which trades as West Port, was fined £16,000 (inc. costs).
The HSE Inspector said:
"It's a basic legal requirement that all industrial machinery is properly guarded to protect workers from dangerous moving parts. A moment's lapse of concentration led to one of West Port's employees losing parts of all four fingers on his right hand, but it should never have been possible for him to reach inside the machine while the blade was still rotating. The company has since installed a tunnel guard over the machine's exit. If this simple guard had been in place at the time of the incident then the worker's injuries could have been avoided."

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Lack of interlocked guard causes broken arm and lost job

B&W Group Ltd, a Worthing company that makes audio equipment used by leading recording studios, has been fined £10,978 (inc. costs) after a worker broke an arm in an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a vacuum-forming machine used to manufacture loudspeaker cones.
  • The company had done an assessment of the risks involved in using the machine but had only considered burn injuries.
  • There was no guarding of moving parts on the machine.
  • Mark Mann was attempting to correct a fault on the machine on 1 November 2011.
  • He thought the machine’s fault was being caused by a pipe that had kinked. 
  • He accessed a gap while the machine was in the cooling cycle, during which the vacuum table is raised. 
  • At the end of the cycle the raised table part dropped, trapping Mr Mann’s arm, fracturing the upper bones and causing nerve damage. 
  • He needed a plate inserted to help heal the break and was unable to return to work for seven months. He has since been made redundant.

The HSE Inspector  said:
“This case shows the importance of carrying out a thorough assessment of all the risks involved in machinery. What happened to Mr Mann was easily avoidable and shortly after the incident the company did fit a suitable guard to the machine that would have prevented it happening.” 

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Disabled guard interlock claims another victim

Radford HMY Group Limited, Newcastle, were fined £7,388 (inc. costs) on 10th September 2013, after a worker's hand was badly crushed in a machine on which an interlocked guard had been deliberately disabled.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a shelving assembly and welding machine on 10 February 2012.
  • An interlocking device to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine had been defeated.
  • This allowed workers to easily enter the machine enclosure whilst the machine was still running. 
  • The company failed to ensure that the machinery and its interlocking safety devices were in effective working order.
  • David Potts was attempting to reposition a component that had become jammed on the machine, causing it to stop.
  • Once it was moved back into the correct position, the machine immediately restarted and Mr Potts' right hand became trapped between a moveable robotic arm and a fixed section of the machine's frame.
  • It was crushed for around five minutes before he was freed and taken to hospital for treatment.

The HSE Inspector  said:
"Mr Potts suffered a serious and preventable injury because of the failure by Radford HMY Group Limited to ensure that safety devices were maintained in an effective condition and that suitable procedures were in place to safely enter the machine enclosure. Too many incidents occur during the setting up and the undertaking of maintenance tasks on machinery. They are easily avoided if suitable precautions are taken to prevent access to dangerous moving parts."

Friday 6 September 2013

Defeated interlock switch causes finger loss

Incube, a Staffordshire furniture company, has been fined £9,025 (inc. costs) after an employee severed a finger in an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on an edge banding machine on 9 October 2012.
  • The interlock safety switch on the machine had been defeated, allowing access to the machine while the blade was moving. 
  • The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment for the machine since it was introduced in 2010.
  • The worker was attempting to clean the machine when his left hand was caught by a rotating blade.
  • He suffered a number of injuries in the incident, including severing his little finger.

The HSE inspector said:
"The woodworking industry has one of the highest incident rates in manufacturing, most of which are caused by contact with moving machinery. HSE produces a wide range of free guidance to assist companies in carrying out risk assessments, and ensuring that woodworking equipment is safe to use and that people are properly trained. In short, what happened to this employee was easily preventable had the company appropriately considered the risks from their work processes and most fundamentally, not removed the safety device from the edge bander."

Monday 2 September 2013

Forklift truck drivers and mandatory hearing protection

Interesting one this morning:
If you have a mandatory hearing protection area, should forklift truck drivers wear hearing protection?
The issues are:

  1. Are drivers above the 2nd action point of the Control of Noise at Work Regs?
  2. Will risks increase if drivers are wearing hearing protection?
  3. Does "mandatory" mean what it says on the tin?

The answers are:

  1. A calculation shows that drivers are below the 2nd action point.
  2. Forklift truck operations are always high risk, and impediments will increase the risk.
  3. If you've got a mandatory area, then all must wear hearing protection.

Risk [2] far outweighs risk [1].

Therefore, you should not require your forklift truck drivers to wear hearing protection and you should amend your signage and working practices in the high noise level areas to state that the wearing of hearing protection does not apply to forklift truck drivers. 

Sunday 1 September 2013

Worker hit by 400kg bale from forklift truck

A Preston worker was struck by 400kg bale falling from a forklift truck.
The circumstances were
  • The metre-high cube of recycled plastic was being moved at Preston Plastics Ltd's plant on 18 August 2011.
  • The firm had failed to plan the lifting operations properly so that the work could be carried out safely.
  • The driver of the forklift lifted up two bales from a stack in the warehouse by clamping hold of the bottom bale, with the other one resting on top.
  • A worker was sweeping up bits of plastic nearby.
  • As the driver moved the bales, the top one toppled from the forklift and struck the worker.
  • He was thrown to the floor as it hit his hands and head, and suffered a fracture to his spine.

Preston Plastics Ltd, was fined  £14,533 (inc. costs) on 28 August 2013.