Monday 28 October 2013

Cardboard manufacturer fined after accident due to poor guarding

Prowell Ltd., a corrugated cardboard manufacturer has been fined over £10,000 (inc. costs) after an employee’s arm was dragged into unguarded machinery at a factory in Ellesmere Port.
The circumstances were:
  • The company had installed the second-hand baler at the factory early in 2009 
  • They had relocated the control panel and hydraulic power pack to the outside of an enclosure around the machine to reduce the risk of fire.
  • This created an unguarded gap on the machine itself.
  • The firm failed to carry out a risk assessment on the use of the baler, despite employees being asked to clear out waste cardboard and dust inside the enclosure on a daily basis while the machine was still running.
  • A worker was cleaning the baling machine when his right hand became caught, causing crush injuries to his hand and breaking his arm

The HSE Inspector said:
“Prowell allowed the baler to operate for over three years without being properly guarded, which ultimately led to a worker being badly injured. It should have carefully considered the consequences of removing the control panel and power pack when the machine was first installed at the factory, and assessed the risks to workers. The company fitted a temporary mesh guard following the incident and has since installed a permanent fixed and interlocked guard. If these measures had been in place at the time of the incident then the employee’s injuries could have been avoided.”

Missing guards and interlocks cause loss of part of 2 fingers

Rose Tissues, an Oldham-based tissue manufacturer has been fined  £18,000 (inc.costs) after an employee lost the tops of two fingers in machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • Rose Tissues Ltd, processes and prints kitchen roll and toilet paper.
  • 2 of the guards on the machine on which the accident occurred had been removed at least a year before the incident. 
  • Interlock switches had been deliberately bypassed to allow the machine to carry on running.
  • There were no checks carried out on the machine to make sure the guards were in place.
  • On 17 May 2012, an employee trying to stop paper sticking to a seven-metre-wide print roller by attempting to clean it with a cloth while the machine was operating.
  • As he did this, the cloth became trapped between two rotating rollers, dragging in his right hand with it. 
  • He spent four days in hospital undergoing surgery to his hand, but lost the tops of two fingers.
  • Following the injury, the guards were found in a storage container in the factory and reinstated.

The HSE Inspector said:
“The guards were fitted to the machine for a reason and there’s simply no excuse for two of them to be missing for over a year. Rose Tissues Ltd had deliberately over-ridden essential electrical locks and cut out switches to allow the machines to run without the guards. The risk of workers’ hands being dragged in between two rollers is well known in the printing industry, but the company failed to carry out checks on its machines to make sure guards were in place. As a result, an employee has suffered an injury to his hand that will affect him for the rest of his life.”

Tuesday 22 October 2013

HVAC company fined following fall from height

HLA Services Ltd., a heating, ventilation and air conditioning company, has been fined £10,710 (inc, costs) after an employee suffered serious injuries in a fall whilst repairing an extraction unit in Newcastle.
The circumstances were:
  • HLA Services Ltd., sent 2 men a site in Newcastle to carry out repairs. 
  • The workers had not been provided with the correct equipment for work at height.
  • In addition, the workers had not been provided with a risk assessment or method statement for the work. 
  • The company failed to ensure the work at height was properly planned.
  • One of the men, Neil Pearson, climbed up a ladder to unfasten the clips which attached a rain cover to the top of the extraction unit.
  • Mr Pearson stepped off the ladder and stood on the small lip at the front of the unit to reach the back clips. 
  • He remained standing on the lip while a colleague moved the ladder to the other side of the unit, but fell when the rain cover became unstable
  • He suffered fractures to his left hand and wrist, and strained his right arm after falling nearly three metres.

The HSE inspector  said:
“This was a wholly avoidable incident resulting in serious injury. Work at height is inherently fraught with risk. It is therefore essential that it is properly planned, managed and monitored to ensure it is carried out safely, and that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent falls and protect workers. If the company had properly planned the work activity and provided suitable equipment, such as a tower scaffold, then it could have been carried out safely. Instead Mr Pearson suffered painful injuries which have had a massive impact on both his work and personal life.

Another accident due to inadequate guarding

Howie Forest Products Ltd, a Dumfries sawmill, has been fined £20,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries to his arm when it became trapped in poorly guarded machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The incident happened on a wood-stacking machine on12 January 2010 at the Kenmuir Sawmills site, in Dalbeattie.
  • A practice had developed for that particular machine whereby pre-cut banding strips were hung through the safety fence making them easily accessible but putting workers at risk of getting too close to machinery.
  • The company had failed to properly assess the risks to employees arising from inadequate guarding of the machine and by a fence that was too close to and too short to protect people close to the machine.
  • The company had failed to provide and maintain a safe machine and system of work for employees engaged in stacking and banding planks.
  • The company had failed to provide adequate safeguarding measures to stop the machine’s operation in the event a person got too close to the machine’s moving parts.
  • The company had failed to prevent the storage of banding strips on the boundary fence where they could fall through and lead to injury to anyone attempting to retrieve them.
  • An employee, Scott Cambell, was working on this machine.
  • He reached over a safety fence to pick up banding strips to tie the planks together. 
  • As he did, one of the machine’s arms, which lowers the planks into position, came forward and pinned his right arm against the inside of the fence trapping it.
  • His arm was then hit by the base block of the machine arm, breaking his elbow and leaving a bone protruding through the skin.
  • Mr Campbell needed surgery to repair the fracture and did not return to work full-time until four months later. His arm is not expected to recover the full range of movement.

Newer stacking machines were safeguarded with light beam grids which would cut out if an operator broke the light beam and could only be restarted by the use of a pull-cord. 
Angled safety fencing also reduced the size of the recesses around the machines to make it difficult for an operator to stand behind the area covered by the light beams and close to any dangerous moving parts.
The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident was entirely preventable. If the company had adopted a consistent approach to assessing the risks of all the machines at the site, the higher standard of protection that existed on the newer machines would have prevented this incident from occurring. Higher standards of protection on recent machines had been installed since October 2007 and at that point Howie Forest Products should have been aware that the safety measures on this stacking unit were inadequate.”

Friday 18 October 2013

Untrained forklift truck drivers results in (suspended) prison sentence for director

BB Recycling, a Corby recycling firm have been fined £640 (inc. costs) and its director given a suspended jail sentence for endangering workers after allowing them to operate fork lift trucks without proper training and then ignoring a notice requiring urgent action to address the safety failing.
The circumstances were:
  • The HSE had served an Improvement Notice against BB Recycling on 29 November 2011.
  • This required them to ensure that people who used forklift trucks were trained.
  • This was continually overlooked even after a deadline to comply was extended until 28 February 2012.
  • The company and director Russell Wayne Armer were also found to have no employer’s liability insurance.
The company was fined and Mr Armer given a fourth month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
The court have also applied to disqualify Mr Armer from acting as a company director, managing or in any way controlling a company for at least five years.
The HSE Inspector said:
“Employees were placed in unnecessary danger, but thankfully the situation was resolved before any one was injured. The requirement to train fork lift operators is long established across all industries so there is no excuse for this company and its director to blatantly ignore what was required as well as a notice that explicitly called for remedial action. Possessing valid employers’ liability insurance, meanwhile, is mandatory for all businesses. So I doubt that many employers will have much sympathy for a firm that was operating without this.”

Company fined over £25,000 because of unloading accient

Thompsons (UK) Ltd., of Croydon, that builds truck bodies has been fined over £25,000 (inc. costs) after a worker’s leg was crushed as a load slid and fell during unloading.
The circumstances were:
  • Lorry driver Andrew Trotter had delivered sheet metal packs in his  flatbed lorry.
  • The packs were six-metre steel sheets weighing almost 4 tonnes.
  • Thompson workers were transferring them to another lorry using a tandem lift by two counter-balanced forklift trucks.
  • There was a lack of planning which led to Mr Trotter being able to work in close proximity to the chassis lorry as the hazardous re-loading was taking place. 
  • The tandem lift was a complicated procedure that had been neither properly planned nor supervised. Had it been controlled and directed competently, the risk of any incident would have been significantly reduced.
  • The re-loading was unbalanced and as a second pack was being placed on the first, a loose wooden baton became dislodged and the whole sheet steel pack started to slide. 
  • Mr Trotter, who was picking up straps between the two lorries, was struck by the corner of the pack before it hit the concrete floor.
  • He suffered a fractured leg and muscle damage and has limited knee and ankle movement. 

The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident could easily have resulted in death and was completely preventable. The injuries Mr Trotter sustained have been painful and life-changing and, although he can drive his lorry, it is not certain how long he will be able to do so. Thompsons (UK) Ltd failed to make sure that the lifting operation of the sheet metal was properly planned and supervised and then, of course, carried out safely. In addition they had not provided adequate training in the use of the forklift trucks to one of their employees involved in the lifting operation. Employers must ensure that work equipment is used in the correct way and that only trained people are allowed to operate such equipment.”

Monday 14 October 2013

Company fails to act on saw guarding and employee severs tendons.

Kierbeck Thames Ltd., of Barking fined £14,000 (inc. costs) after an employee severed the tendons in his hand on an unguarded saw blade.

The circumstances were:
  • The company was served with a Prohibition Notice in May 2011 after another horizontal band saw was found to be inadequately guarded.
  • The standard of machinery guarding across the site was flagged as being a cause for concern, and the company was urged to make wholesale improvements and carry out regular checks in addition to making the offending saw safe.
  • The company had failed to make significant improvements.
  • 23 February 2012, a worker was using a horizontal band saw to cut down metal bars. 
  • The system of work for cutting down the bars was unsafe because it required employees to work close to dangerous moving parts. 
  • The cutting blade could have been better guarded or other measures imposed to keep workers at a safe distance.
  • He had climbed onto a bench at the back of the saw to undo clips and chains that held a bundle of bars together, but as he moved away he slipped and his right hand went into the machine.
  • The cutting blade was unguarded at this point and it sliced into his hand.
  • He needed a five-hour operation to repair the damage.

The HSE Inspector said:
“It is extremely disappointing that it took a worker to sustain a serious hand injury for Kierbeck Thames Ltd to finally acknowledge its guarding failings. The company was well aware that an incident was inevitable unless improvements were made, and yet our enforcement action and safety advice were seemingly ignored. Adequate safeguards must be in place to protect employees from dangerous moving parts, and the onus is on employers to instigate improvements on a proactive basis.”

Untrained forklift driver and poor system of work cause truck to overturn

Midland Steel Reinforcement Supplies Limited of Bexley  has been fined £28,500 (inc. costs) after a forklift truck overturned during a risky and poorly planned operation to move and empty a skip.
The circumstances were:
  • The firm supplies reinforced steel bars (rebar) to the construction industry.
  • On 13 September 2011 the operator of the forklift was told to empty bins at the site, an instruction he understood to include small skips containing offcuts of rebar.
  • The operator of the forklift was untrained and unsupervised.
  • The system and method of work was unsuitable and posed clear risk.
  • A safer method than that used was available to empty the waste steel rebars in the form of tipper skips, which were in use elsewhere at the site.
  • He used a forklift truck to lift and move one of the skips to a larger waste container and balanced it on the edge. 
  • He then retracted the forks of the forklift and used them to tip the skip and empty the contents.
  • He then jumped from the cab and into the waste container in order to attach a sling to the empty skip and the forks of the forklift so that he could pull and lift it back out.
  • He climbed back into the cab and attempted to do so but the forklift overturned, with the lifting column coming to rest on the edge of the container.
  • The fact it didn’t hit the ground created a small gap between the cab and the floor that the operator was able to crawl through.
  • He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when the forklift overturned – making it all the more remarkable that he avoided harm.

The HSE Inspector  commented:
“The forklift truck should have never have been used to lift and manoeuvre the skip in this way. It was a system and method of work that posed clear risk, and the worker is extremely fortunate to avoid being seriously injured – possibly even killed had the forklift struck and crushed him as it overturned. The onus is on employers like Midland Steel Reinforcement Supplies to ensure operations are properly planned, managed and supervised, and that adequate training, instruction and equipment is provided to at all times to protect workers.”

Monday 7 October 2013

PHS fined £150,000 following aerosol explosion at waste site

An explosion occurred at a waste management site due to aerosols being allowed into a shredder. This caused three workers to sustain serious burns.

The circumstances were:

  • PHS did not have a procedure for checking the contents of boxes of waste materials delivered to the site. 
  • The company also failed to ensure that a chemical specialist monitored the waste being put into the shredder to check for flammable substances.
  • A risk assessment carried out in April 2010 identified the risk of aerosols being added to the shredder as being 'very unlikely', and the consequences of this happening as 'moderate' 
  • This assessment was inadequate and meant than no action was taken. 
  • 12 October 2010, 150 aerosol cans containing extremely flammable substances were put into an industrial shredder.
  • Three employees working near the shredder were caught in a fireball, and surrounding buildings had to be evacuated while firefighters dealt with the resulting blaze.
  • There was also extensive damage to the large warehouse that housed the shredder.

PHS were fined on 3 October 2013.

The HSE Principal Inspector said:
"The chemical waste industry has the potential to be extremely hazardous, and PHS could and should have done more to protect the lives of its employees and the public. The explosion and fire led to three workers being seriously injured and caused considerable disruption in the local area. The issue of waste materials being wrongly labelled is well known in the industry, so PHS shouldn't just have assumed it could add cardboard boxes to the industrial shredder without first checking what was in them. It could easily have made sure boxes were opened before they were put in the shredder. If it had, then the explosion and fire could have been avoided."

Friday 4 October 2013

Kebab manufacturer fined after hand was drawn into machinery

Kismet Kebabs Ltd, an Essex kebab manufacturer, has been fined £25,000 (inc costs) for serious safety failings after a worker suffered horrific injuries to his hand when it became trapped in unguarded machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a derinding machine on 9 February 2012.
  • Despite the known risks of machine operators having their fingers or other body parts drawn into machinery, particularly in running trap points, there was no interlock or tunnel guard on the machine preventing employees reaching the stripper comb or stopping the machine operating when it was in its open position for cleaning.
  • Training in the use of the machine was inconsistent. Employees had not been made aware of the risks and dangers which could occur during cleaning operations and the methods they should use to ensure they were not exposed to those risks.
  • A worker, Ethem Torunoglu,  was cleaning a derinding machine when he noticed a piece of meat or sinew caught in the stripper comb. 
  • While the machine was running he tried to dislodge it with a pressure washer.
  • When that failed he reached in. His hand was drawn into the machine between the stripper comb and the serrated roller above it.
  • He couldn't reach the stop button from where he was so the serrated roller continued to rotate over the back of his hand, grinding it away until a colleague came and turned off the machine.
  • He sustained significant injuries including losing the knuckles on his right hand, substantial damage to the tendons and veins and loss of flesh from his hand.
  • He has had substantial surgery since the accident.

The HSE Inspector said:
"This incident was wholly avoidable. Ethem Torunoglu was failed by the company's lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment. From Mr Torunoglu's point of view his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work. He is unable to use his hand and only has about 10 per cent range of movement in it. His whole life has been affected and he relies on his wife for many of the tasks of daily living. The risks of in-running trap points - where there is a gap sufficient for something such as fingers or other body parts to be drawn in - are well known in the food manufacturing industry and Kismet Kebabs Ltd should have put in place suitable measures to prevent this type of injury from occurring. Instead Mr Torunoglu has been left with a serious injury from which he will likely never completely recover."

Man next to lorry crushed by paper reel

A man in his forties suffered life-threatening injuries when he was crushed under a paper reel on an industrial estate in Essex last week.

According to a BBC report, the accident took place at the Childerditch Industrial Park in Brentwood, Essex, at 11am on 25 September.
A spokesman for the Essex Fire & Rescue Service said that firefighters had assisted in moving the man from the rear of a lorry parked at Unit 51 on the estate to an air ambulance.
There is no information on what exactly happens but given the position of the man, it looks like he was near the reel handling truck and the reel slipped, crushing him. Should this be the case, then it is yet another avoidable tragic accident of a person who does not need to be next to a forklift or reel truck when it is lifting or lowering items on a vehicle or racking.
The man, who was said by the BBC to have suffered "multiple injuries", was then airlifted to Victoria Park and transferred to the major trauma centre at Royal London Hospital.

Conveyor manufacturer fined following loss of three fingers

Armistead Engineering Ltd, a conveyor supplier, has been fined £12,380 (inc. costs) after a worker severed three fingers in an unguarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a conveyor on 9 March 2012.
  • The conveyor had inadequate guarding over the drive mechanism.
  • A worker was attempting to clear some blocked wood from the conveyor 
  • As he did so his right hand came into contact with the sprockets and chains that drove the belt and he severed parts of his middle, ring and little finger.

The HSE inspector said:
"This incident could have been so easily prevented had the company not failed in their duties to ensure the machinery was safe. Armistead Engineering should have supplied adequate guarding with the machine and ensured workers did not have access to the dangerous moving parts of the conveyor. Sadly, because they didn't do this a man suffered painful, life-changing injuries."