Friday 29 November 2013

Lack of guarding causes loss of two fingers

Sofidel UK Ltd, one of Europe’s largest tissue and paper towel manufacturers based in Leicester, has been fined after a worker had to have the tips of two fingers amputated after trapping them in badly-guarded machinery while trying to clear a blockage.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a paper converting machine on 26 September 2012.
  • There was no fixed guarding for the belt and pulley drive of the conveyor to prevent access to moving parts of the machine.
  • The injured  worker placed his hand inside the converting machine to try and remove the tissue blockage on the belt and pulley drive of the conveyor.
  • His hand was trapped and the tips of two fingers on his left hand were so badly injured they had to be amputated.

Sofidel UK Ltd  was fined £2,712 (inc. costs.)
The HSE inspector said:
“This incident highlights the dangers posed by machinery and the need to fully re-assess risks from machinery when it is moved from one site to another. Sofidel UK Ltd failed to provide suitable guarding and did not take effective measures to prevent access by their workers to the dangerous moving parts. Workers should not be injured trying to fix a problem. Having an effective guard on this part of the machine would have prevented this employee from suffering nasty injuries to his hand.”

Director fined for ignoring improvement notices

London-based Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd and a director, Stephen Morrison, were fined on 27th November 2013 as a result of an inspection on 10 February 2013 and follow-up in April identified a number of serious issues.
  • Two Improvement Notices were served in February requiring action to be taken to stop health and safety from being compromised, and to protect workers undertaking hazardous activities. 
  • The follow up inspection in April revealed both were ignored. 
  • Little had changed and that there were still serious faults.
As a result, Sunbeam Wood Works Ltd, was fined a total of £21,460 (inc. costs) and Stephen Morrison fined £8,000.
Relevant sections of 
the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 were 2(1), 21 and 37.
The faults found in February were that the company had:
  • failed to test ventilation systems for extracting potentially harmful wood dust
  • failed to provide suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE), controls or any health surveillance for employees working with hazardous spray paints
  •  failed to control noise exposure
  •  failed to provide adequate information, training and  supervision to protect workers from hazards, including inhaling chemicals such as isocyanate during spraying processes.
The HSE Inspector said:
“Employers have a duty to protect their workers, but this company carried out high risk activities, such as paint spraying and work that exposed employees to prolonged, high levels of noise, with disregard for their health and safety. The seriousness of these breaches was reflected in the Improvement Notices issued, which both the company and Stephen Morrison ignored. They failed to address the fact that workers were placed at unnecessary risk because of the inadequate RPE provisions, and the complete lack of health surveillance. They were being exposed to potentially harmful sprays and noise, and yet the company had no means of monitoring whether it was causing harm. Sunbeam Wood Works, under the lead of Mr Morrison, displayed poor performance over the period of our investigation. HSE will not hesitate to take action against duty holders who shirk their responsibilities in this way.”

Thursday 28 November 2013

Lack of isolation/lock-out system results in death

The lack of a system for non-standard work requiring isolation of equipment resulted in the death of an electrician who was crushed by an overhead crane at a Preston factory.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a platform next to a crane at Assystem UK Ltd on 12 March 2011.
  • The platform, which was around four metres above the ground, had been installed for a specific project in September 2000.
  • The platform had remained at the factory but there was no barrier at the bottom of the access ladder to prevent workers climbing up it while the crane was in use.
  • The crane cleared the top of the guard rails around the ladder and platform by just 8.5cm. 
  • Despite this, the company had not identified the risk of workers being crushed by the crane if they used the platform so no action had been taken to stop this from happening.
  • End stops had previously been fitted to the rails used by the overhead crane that stopped the crane reaching the platform, but these had later been removed.
  • On the day of the incident, Liam O’Neill had been trying to replace a cable, which hangs down from the crane to a handheld control, after it had developed an intermittent fault.
  • The crane had been moved over the platform so Mr O’Neill could reach the top of the cable where it connects to a junction box on the crane. 
  • There was no system of work requiring isolation and Mr O’Neill had been able to work on a platform in the path of the overhead crane without the power to the crane first being switched off.
  • As he climbed onto the platform, the crane moved and he was crushed between the guard rails around the top of the ladder and the crane itself.

Assystem UK Ltd., £212,500 (ind. costs). 
TheHSE Inspector said:
“Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn’t think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane. Assystem should never have allowed the end stops to be removed from the crane’s rails when it was still possible for workers to climb up the ladder onto the platform. It would have been simple to put a system in place to make sure power to the crane was switched off before anyone climbed onto the platform, or to put up a barrier to prevent access to the platform.”

Lack of system to isolate machine causes near-death injuries

Hunter Wilson Ltd, a Dumfries wood machining company , was fined £44,000 after a worker was caught in moving machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The equipment on which the accident occurred was a log haul.
  • In 2007 the company installed an automated scraper system to scrape fallen debris.
  • This consisted of two horizontal cross sections of steel, or scraper bars, that moved slowly on a continuous loop along the concrete platforms under each of the log hauls, scraping debris and pushing it off the end of the platforms where it could be safely collected.
  •  However, the system was not able to clear all of the debris, resulting in employees still having to go under the log haul platforms to manually clear out the remaining debris at the end of each day.
  • The company failed to provide fixed guarding enclosing the machine’s dangerous parts and interlocking guarding to stop dangerous parts moving before a worker entered the danger zones.
  • The company also failed to provide effective supervision in order to prevent its employees from entering danger zones while dangerous parts were moving,
  • At the end of each working day one of Steven Cairns’ duties was to clean the areas below two log hauls, where debris such as bark and branches had fallen.
  • On the day of the incident Mr. Cairns was clearing debris from under the log haul when one of the moving scraper bars came from behind him and crushed his pelvis against the base of a step feeder machine. It then continued on, dragging him through a shear point where the bar passed under the base of the machine.
  • He managed to drag himself free and was discovered shortly after by colleagues who responded to his screams.

The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident was entirely preventable. Hunter Wilson Ltd had identified the scraper system as a risk to employees, however, the company failed to apply the hierarchy of control measures provided by Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, which requires employers to provide fixed guarding enclosing dangerous moving parts of machinery, to the extent that it is practicable to do so, before moving on to consider a safe system of work. Had fixed guards been in place to physically prevent access, then employees would not have been exposed to the risk from the dangerous moving bars of the scraper system. As a consequence of this breach, Mr Cairns suffered horrific injuries from which he will never fully recover.”

Wednesday 20 November 2013

HSE updates ACOP on Workplace

The HSE has provided an updated version of the Workplace Regulations Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) (L24) to make it easier for employers, building owners, landlords and managing agents to understand and meet their legal obligations and so reduce the risks of over compliance.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 to which this refers are not changed and the ACOP is really just a clarification.

Download a free copy of the ACOP

Monday 18 November 2013

Unguarded sawblade causes major injuries

A 20 year old man suffered major arm injuries on a poorly guarded saw.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred at  Brumley Brae sawmill. owned by  Tennants (Elgin) Limited on 26 September 2011.
  • It occurred on a bandsaw, used to cut large pieces of timber, with a continuous blade revolving at high speed. 
  • The drive wheels and chain drive were unguarded and the saw-blade guard was not positioned correctly.
  • This was despite the risks being widely known in the woodworking industry.
  • Training in the use of the machine was informal and generally carried out by the person who had previously used it, whether or not they had ever been formally trained themselves.
  • Employees had not been made aware of the risks and dangers which could occur during woodcutting operations. 
  • They had not been given a push-stick which would have allowed them to move wood through the machinery whilst remaining at a distance from cutting blades.
  • The injured person, Damian Gawlowski, had not received any formal training on the machine.
  • He was left unsupervised even though he was untrained and inexperienced.
  • Whilst trying to feed some wood through, his arm was drawn into the machine and cut in half lengthways up to the elbow.
  • He sustained significant injuries and needed 16 operations to try and repair ligament, muscle and nerve damage. He has lost one finger entirely and part of another finger, and now struggles to use his right hand.

Tennants  was fined £30,000 15 November 2013.
The HSE Principal Inspector  said:
“This incident was wholly avoidable. Damian Gawlowski was let down by the company’s lack of proper training, inadequate assessment of risks, and ineffective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment. From Mr Gawlowski’s point of view, his life has been destroyed. He is unable to go back to work, unable to use his hand and he relies on others for many of the tasks of daily living. The risks of bandsaws – where there are fast moving cutting parts – are well known in the sawmill industry and Tennants (Elgin) Limited should have put in place suitable measures to prevent this type of injury from occurring. Instead Mr Gawlowski has been left with a serious injury from which it’s likely he will never completely recover.”

Failure to control site vehicle operations results in death

An employee of UK Wood Recycling Ltd., was killed after being struck by a loading vehicle.
The circumstances were:
  • No segregation measures had been put in place by UK Wood Recycling Ltd to separate vehicles and pedestrians working on the site. 
  • Workers were unprotected from the dangers of constantly moving vehicles, despite previous incidents where vehicles had collided, and workers reporting other near misses.
  • On 19 December 2008 Raymond Burns had been working around a large wood pile being used to feed a hammer mill where the wood was smashed to chips. 
  • The shovel vehicle was moving material from one part of the site to another. 
  • As he crossed to a skip, Mr Burns was struck and run over by the load shovel and died of his injuries at the scene.

UK Wood Recycling Ltd  was fined £234,000 (inc. costs) on 12th November 2013. 
The HSE Inspector said: 
“A conscientious and hard-working man has lost his life in this senseless way.  There was simply an acceptance by UK Wood Recycling Ltd of the established working pattern.  Solely relying on drivers or workers noticing each other is not adequate control. This was an entirely preventable death caused by the company failing to have a system to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely around each other. Ideally, this segregation is achieved by the vehicles and pedestrians having separate traffic routes.  If they share a route or area then physical barriers should be used to keep them apart, or other means of preventing moving vehicles and people being in the same place at the same time. The waste industry has a very high injury rate, and most of the fatal and major injuries relate to transport issues. The risks of serious injury and, all too frequently, death, resulting from the failure to control the safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians are widely recognised.”

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Use of the combined UKAS and certification body logos.

UKAS have some restrictions on how the combined mark can and cannot be used.

The following rules apply:

The combined Mark can be used on:

  • Stationery – Letterheads, compliment slips, labels, invoices. The combined Mark may be used on business cards but must always be legible.
  • Advertising material – Posters, TV advertisements, promotional videos, newsletters, brochures. The combined mark can be used on a client company web-site but should not appear on web-pages which directly promote the client company’s products or services, so as to avoid the suggestion of ‘product certification’.
  • Internal walls and doors.
  • Exhibition stands.

The combined Mark cannot be used on:

  • Products.
  • Publicity information on products – This includes notices, labels, documents or written announcements, affixed to or otherwise appearing on goods or products. This restriction also applies to primary (e.g. blister packs) packaging and promotional products (see below).
  • Vehicles - Except if you have a poster or advert for your organisation in which you include the combined Mark, then you can put that poster (including the combined Mark) on a vehicle.
  • Buildings and flags.
  • Promotional gifts – Mugs, calendars, Christmas cards, paperweights.
  • Test and calibration reports and certificates
There are rules on size and colour of logos, but consult your certification body about this.

Monday 11 November 2013

Consultation on dichloromethane in hard ink removers and paint strippers

Under the REACH Enforcement Regulations 2008, there is a European ban on dichloromethane. 

The HSE has proposed an amendment which will allow it still to be used.
The planned amendment will introduce necessary training requirements and a mandatory certificate of competence for professional users who wish to purchase and use DCM-based paint strippers.

SSS's stance has always been that ink strippers containing dichloromethane should be phased out of printing companies that still use it.

See the HSE's consultative document.

Monday 4 November 2013

Lancaster firm fined £10,000 after guillotine severs hand

Charlesworth Tree Care and Fencing Ltd., a Lancaster timber firm has been fined £10,000 (inc. costs) after a guillotine severed the hand of one of its employees.
The circumstances were:
  • A worker was feeding pieces of wood into a diesel-powered guillotine, known as a logger.
  • The guarding on the machine was poor and it was possible to reach under the blade while operating the guillotine.
  • The system was to push wood in using his right hand and to operate the control lever with his left hand.
  • He accidentally pulled down the lever before he had removed his right hand from under the blade.
  • The blade passed through the top of his hand, just below his knuckles, breaking all the bones in its path and severing all the tendons.
  • Surgeons managed to sew his hand back together during a six-hour operation but he had to have part of his little finger amputated and now has very limited movement in his hand.

The HSE Inspector said:
“A long-serving employee at the firm suffered life-changing injuries because the company’s safety precautions on this machine weren’t anywhere near good enough. The guillotine had been at the timber yard for over a decade but it wasn’t in daily use and didn’t meet the standards of other equipment owned by the company. This case should act as a warning to firms to make sure all their equipment meets minimum safety requirements, no matter how frequently or infrequently it is used.”