Tuesday 22 October 2013

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.”

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