Tuesday 8 April 2014

Testimonial on Health & Safety support from Warwick Fabrics

The health and safety support provided by Strategic Safety Systems was simple and clear. 

 This has considerably reduced the worry we had about being legally compliant.

Carol Porter, Warwick Fabrics

Testimonial from Prinovis on 14001 and 18001

Strategic Safety Systems have been instrumental in assisting Prinovis Liverpool in gaining certification to ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. 

Phil Chambers made the experience an enjoyable one.

John Morris, Health, Safety, Environmental and Security Manager, Prinovis, Liverpool

Friday 4 April 2014

Failure to act on consultant's recommendations costs almost £50,000

Environmental Waste Recycling was fined £49,670 (inc.costs) after a worker almost lost his arm in machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a heavy-duty conveyor belt.
  • A health and safety consultant hired by the company had reported the missing guards following inspections in November 2008 and June 2010.
  • The company had failed to act on his recommendations.
  • After returning from his lunch break on 7 August 2013, the worker switched the power to the machine back on. 
  • He then walked through an 800 mm-wide gap by the side of the machine.
  • His arm was caught by the roller under the conveyor belt and dragged in. 
  • He called for help and one of his colleagues turned off the electrical supply but it took the emergency services 90 minutes to free him.
  • His arm was broken in several places and he lost a considerable amount of muscle tissue.

The HSE Inspector  said:
“The injuries suffered by this young worker have had a massive impact on his life, and he still requires hospital treatment. He has been unable to return to work and relies on his parents and family for support. It’s shocking that Environmental Waste Recycling was first made aware of the missing guards by its own health and safety consultant nearly five years before the incident but it failed to act on this, even when the issue was highlighted again in 2010. The firm should have carried out a proper assessment of the risks facing workers, and fitted guards to prevent access to the rollers on the conveyor belt. Instead, it waited for an employee to be seriously injured before taking any action.”

Lorry driver hit by forklift truck

LP Foreman & Sons or Chelmsford was fined £7621 (inc. costs) on 1st April after a worker was hit be a forklift truck.
The circumstances were:
  • It was common practice for van drivers to instruct forklift truck operators where to place loads within their vehicles for ease of delivery. 
  • There were no procedures for keeping pedestrians and forklift trucks apart.
  • On 19th August 2013 a  driver stepped from the rear of his vehicle and was struck by a reversing forklift truck
  • He suffered a fractured ankle and other

The HSE Inspector  said:
“This was an entirely preventable injury caused by LP Foreman & Sons’ failure to recognise the hazards arising from loading operations at their premises. Our investigation found that there was an absence of effective systems of control which were sufficiently robust to allow workplace transport and pedestrians to circulate the site in safety. It had become regular practice for delivery drivers to take up positions where forklift trucks were loading or unloading and this unsafe practice has led to a serious injury.”

Unguarded chain drive claims 2 finger tips

Biffa Waste Services Ltd was fined £21,542 (inc. costs) on 3rd April 2014 after an employee lost the tips of fingers in an unguarded chain drive.
The circumstances were:
  • The machine had been fitted with an external chain drive which was unguarded.
  • Workers had also received no training or instruction on isolation of the machine when clearing blockages.
  • On 2th February 2013, a worker was clearing a blockage when his glove became entangled in the moving drive.
  • This severed the tips of 2 fingers

The HSE inspector said:
“The company was fully aware of the requirement for the chains to be guarded and had made arrangements for guards to be added later that week, yet still allowed the machine to be used before that happened. As a result, a man suffered a painful injury that could have been prevented.”

Monday 24 March 2014

Testimonial on health and safety services

Finding SSS was like finding the golden nugget. 
They have eased the burden of health and safety, the whole process was professional, cost effective and on-time.  
We will certainly recommend them. 
When we go forwards to ISO 14001, we will use SSS.

John Wood, MD, Deburring Services, Cheltenham

Fall from 1.5m results in post-concussion syndrome

It doesn't take much height for a fall to cause long term injuries.
In this case, a man fell from 1.5m at a caravan company.
The circumstances were:
  • The man was employed at Roma Caravans in  Silsoe, Bedfordshire.
  • He was working on a makeshift platform, comprising an unsecured woodend plank across a metal frame on 21st February 2012.
  • The platform was inherently unsafe and was unsuitable.
  • He attempted to retrieve his tools but the far end of the plan swung up and hit him.
  • He fell to the floor, banged his head but otherwise appeared to have suffered no other injury. 
  • However, he collapsed two days later and was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. 
  • He has since suffered from severe headaches and pains to his hip.

Roma Caravans was fined £8,527 (inc. costs) on 17th March 2014.
The HSE Inspector said:
“This incident was entirely avoidable, and illustrates the need for duty holders to ensure work of this nature is carefully planned and managed at all times. By not providing suitable equipment, Roma Caravans put the safety of a worker at risk. Appropriate and stable work platforms should always be used for any work undertaken at height.”

Sunday 23 March 2014

Testimonial covering all 3 areas of SSS support

We originally engaged Phil to implement a simple straightforward H&S system to enable us to manage our site health & safety. Having implemented it very easily and with the minimum amount of pain, Phil then took our old ISO 9001 quality management system manual and restructured it so we now have an intranet based manual which is simple and straightforward to follow.  Phil then integrated the SSS INTACT management system to manage all our audit meetings and actions so we now have a suite of simple systems in place to manage the business efficiently.

Ian Mence, Bushell & Meadows, Tewkesbury

See more about support from Strategic Safety Systems

Tips when outsourcing health and safety support

It makes a lot of sense to outsource health and safety support, but I’ve seen some shocking examples provided by others at companies I visit; not legally wrong, just totally ineffective. So, what should you look for when choosing who can provide such support?

Experience and qualifications
This should go without saying, but there are examples where the provider of the support has no experience in that sector.  Occasionally, I have to decline work because I am not competent in that speciality. So, you should ask them to verify that they have provided support in the same or comparable sectors to yours.
For assurance on qualifications, someone who is CMIOSH should be OK as they are obliged to operate within their competencies; with others, you will need to look more closely. Surprisingly, some trade association advisors are not at this level and I know of one major trade association where none of their H&S advisors are CMISOH! (I have been called in to carry out new assessments because their's were rejected, for example by the local fire service).

Avoid masses of paperwork
Ask to see examples of their work. A thick folder with lots of forms and padding is an indication to be concerned about this provider; it is just not workable. What you should look for are concise records and actions plans.  For example, a set of risk assessments is not enough; what you want is an action plan arising from those assessments. And some organisations just provide masses of forms and text and then expect you to do the work!

Avoid the tick-box/clipboard mentality
This might be difficult to spot without watching how somebody operates. But what you should look for is someone who gets close, communicates with operators and understands what they do, not someone in a suit standing at a distance with a clipboard.

Avoid tie-in contracts
Some providers expect to sign you up for 2 years or so. Avoid these like the plague.

Look for someone who will minimise their work
Done properly, health and safety support should be a diminishing requirement as you get on top of issues and gain ownership. So you should look for someone who is working towards reducing their input in future years.

Ask to see references or testimonials
This is something you would do when employing someone, so why not do it when you are considering them as a service provider?  Our testimonials are on the home page of our website, www.strategicsafety.co.uk .

See more about health & safety support from Strategic Safety Systems

Or if you have any questions on health and safety, call me on 07768 011667 or e-mail me at phil@strategeicsafety.co.uk.

Friday 21 March 2014

Engineering company fined £12,000 for overridden interlocks

TG Engineering Ltd., of Ferndown was fined £12,369 (inc.costs) after a part was ejected past an open guard where the interlock had been disabled.
The circumstances were:
  • The incident occurred on a CNC lathe.  
  • This has a interlock on the guard which prevents high speed when the guard is open.
  • The interlocks on the guard on this machine and several other machines had been disabled.
  • The operator selected an incorrect speed which meant that the spindle speed was much too high, resulting in the workpiece and clamp being ejected.
  • These hit the operator on the head.

The HSE inspector Matthew Tyler :
“CNC machines are powerful with the potential to cause serious harm, and the employee was extremely fortunate to escape relatively unharmed in this instance. Using the interlocking guards provided with the machine would have prevented access to dangerous parts and reduced the risk of ejection of materials and entanglement. The disabling of interlocks is a common failure in engineering companies and this prosecution should serve as a reminder to the risks involved.”

Lack of adequate guarding on textile machine causes finger crush injury

Lawton Yarns Ltd., of Dewsbury was fined £5,648 (inc. costs) after a worker was caught in an unguarded part of a machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The company bought a miniature carding machine second-hand in 2000 and fitted guards.
  • The guards did not cover access to the carding rollers from underneath.
  • The company had several carding machines and the risks of access from the underside are well known within the industry.
  • A worker reached under the rollers to reach some fibres, was caught and drawn in
  • Three fingers were badly crushed.

The HSE Inspector said:
“Lawton Yarns’ key failing was not to assess the risks adequately in the first place. The assessment is the platform for informing you of the controls and measures you need. If the former is lacking, then so are the controls. In this case, a vital risk was missed and an employee now has to live with the serious consequences. The incident demonstrates that a risk assessment is not an administrative, paper exercise. If companies do not do it properly in the first place, they will always struggle to put in place proper safeguards.”

Monday 17 March 2014

Ceiling company fined £25,000 for inadequate guarding

CEP Ceilings Ltd.,  Stafford, was fined a total of £25,200 (inc. costs) after a worker required skin grafts on his arm which had been caught in machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a laminator on 21 January 2013.
  • CEP Ceilings had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. 
  • In addition, no safe system of work was in place, and insufficient monitoring of employees took place.
  • Covers protecting the drive mechanism to rollers had been removed to give easier access to the roller.
  • The injured person was removing hardened-on glue from the lower roller when his left arm was caught in the drive mechanism.
  • His forearm was caught in the intermeshing metal gears, which chewed up a large chunk of tissue. He needed a skin graft to help it heal.

The HSE inspector said:
“Mr Turney suffered a painful injury as a result of CEP Ceilings Ltd failing to effectively assess the risk to employees from using and cleaning the machine and then prescribe a system of work which kept employees safe. Workers were left to determine their own methods of cleaning machinery and these unsafe methods had existed for many years. Safe systems of work, information, instruction and training are required to control the risks during both production and maintenance activities. A robust system to monitor employees also needs to be in place to detect any poor practices.”

Company fined £18,200 for overridden interlock

Sika Ltd., a Welwyn Garden City manufacturing firm was fined £18,200 (inc. costs) on 14th March 2014 after an agency worker suffered a hand injury whilst clearing a blockage on a poorly-guarded palletiser machine.
The circumstances were:
  • The incident happened on 12 October 2012 on a palletiser.
  • Sika Ltd had failed to properly assess the risks from using the palletiser. 
  • In addition insufficient training and instruction had been provided to workers, and their supervision was inadequate.
  • Machine guarding was inadequate to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine.  Specifically, an interlock had been overridden.
  • A blockage had occurred and the injured person was clearing the blockage via the open guard with the overridden interlock. 
  • As he restarted the palletiser, his hand, which was resting on the top frame of the machine, was struck by a moving part which operated the claw mechanism.
  • He suffered multiple fractures of his hand and lacerations and was unable to return to work to perform a similar role for several months.

The HSE Inspector  said:
“Sika Ltd failed to implement effective measures to ensure workers were not exposed to dangerous parts of machinery. They failed to properly assess the risks, ensure the machine was adequately guarded, and that workers were effectively supervised. This has resulted in a worker suffering a serious injury which has greatly impacted on his ability to work. The hazards from automated machinery, notably palletisers, are well known and there is a history of serious and fatal accidents occurring at palletiser machinery. Clearing blockages can lead to sudden start-up or movement of machinery so adequate guarding and isolation procedures are essential.”

Friday 7 March 2014

Thames Cryogenics fined £9,500 after acetone fire

Thames Cryogenics, a specialist manufacturer of vessels and pipework designed to carry liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen was fined £9,500 (inc. costs) after a welder was seriously burned during unsafe hotwork.
The circumstances were:
  • There was an open bowl containing 7 litres of acetone, a highly flammable liquid, near a welding operation.
  • Thames Cryogenics did not consider the use of large quantities of acetone in an open container to be an issue, and there were 600 litres of acetone were on the premises at the time of the incident.
  • The acetone was intended for use as a degreasing agent, but that welders also cooled items in the open bowl.
  • The welder used it to quench a hot work piece and it ignited.
  • He attempted to move the container outside and it spilt onto and through his trousers. 
  • He was in hospital for a week and needed skin grafts.

The company admitted that the bowl in question had been in place since 1986, despite its highly flammable properties.
Inspectors identified numerous issues with the company’s safety management system, which resulted in three Improvement Notices being served to instigate changes. Following the incident, and in order to comply with the notices, smaller sealed containers were introduced for storing acetone for welders to use.
The HSE inspector said:
“This was an entirely preventable incident that left an employee with serious and extremely painful injuries. Fortunately he was able to return to work, but he was reliant on painkillers for several months afterwards as the burns healed following his skin grafts. The standards governing the use of highly flammable liquids are well established and well known in industry, so it is difficult to comprehend how Thames Cryogenics could mistakenly believe that leaving an open bowl of acetone seemingly unchecked for a prolonged period – in this case several decades – was acceptable. The incident demonstrates the importance of actively managing health and safety and following health and safety advice and guidance where appropriate. The use of flammable liquids must be properly risk assessed and controlled in industrial environments.”

Monday 3 March 2014

Case against Taunton fireworks organiser dropped.

The case against Geoffrey Counsellthe organiser of the fireworks display at Taunton where a crash on the M5 occurred has been dropped. The crash, on 4th November 2011, killed 7 and injured 51. 
The display was at a rugby club close to the motorway.  Smoke from the display drifted across the motorway.  In itself, this would not have caused much of a problem, but it combined with naturally-occurring fog to form smog, which was so thick that motorists on the northbound carriageway likened it to having a tin of paint thrown over their windscreens.
The argument is that smog is not unknown and was common in London before the Clear Air Act.  
However, this was many years ago and its occurrence is not something which most people nowadays consider.
Judge Justice Simon directed the jury at Bristol Crown Court on 9th December 2013 to return a verdict of not guilty.

The judge stated, "The prosecution case required Mr Counsell to appreciate and react more or less instantly to something not thought to be a hazard to anyone and had no previous reason to think it was a hazard.There was no proper basis that you could have concluded that a reasonable person would have appreciated a reasonable risk and reacted to it to stop the display. The Prosecution must show a risk that is more than fanciful and theoretical, one which would require a reasonable person to do something about it.  It focusses on the important aspect of foresight without the benefit of hindsight."

See article on this.

Plaxtons fined £32,000 after fall from height

Alexander Dennis Ltd., otherwise known as as Plaxtons was fined £32,000 (inc. costs) on 24 February 2014 after a worker fell from height whilst working on  a gantry.
The circumstances were:
  • On 7 June 2012, a worker was preparing the top level of a double-decker bus for painting at the Plaxtons site in Anston, South Yorkshire, where vehicles are repaired and refurbished.
  • The four gantries for this type of work were unstable and inadequately guarded.
  • Only two had a single metal bar hinged across the access steps and none had inner guard rails to properly protect employees from falls. 
  • They did not extend the length of a bus so workers would move along by pushing against the vehicle while standing on the gantries, which were set on wheels but with no brakes.
  • Plaxtons had not provided employees with a safe method of working at height and had failed to suitably train them to carry out that type of work.
  • The platform the worker was on did not have a gate or bar fitted to the access steps. 
  • As he worked on the bus exterior, he moved closer to the open edge, took a step too far, lost his balance and fell 2m to the ground.
  •  He suffered head injuries, a broken and dislocated elbow and a fractured big toe.

The HSE Inspector  said:
“Alexander Dennis Ltd did not properly assess the risks its workers faced in performing their day-to-day work and the gantries provided to them were obviously not fit for purpose. In addition, the workers themselves had not been given the right training for working at height, which is one of the most dangerous elements in any industry. For a company of its size and reputation, I would have hoped that Alexander Dennis would be setting the standards in safety at its sites. Instead, this is one of a number of cases in the recent past where HSE has had to take enforcement action against the company. Work at height is inherently fraught with risk and falls remain the single biggest cause of deaths and serious injury.
Source: HSE 24 February 2014

SSS support results in retraction of Improvement Notice and FFI

Strategic Safety Systems support to a client company has resulted in an Improvement Notice and associated Fee For Intervention (FFI) being withdrawn.

The company produces roll labels, on equipment including Mark Andy machines.  In the opinion of the inspector, "there is not a safe system of work in place to isolate and lock off power supplies to the Mark Andys and associated equipment during maintenance, clearance of blockages and safety checks on the machine to prevent the plant from being started whilst someone is in a position of danger."

In the SSS response to this, we were able to show that there are no hidden space and there is nothing special about roll label machines such as Mark Andys which makes them different to thousands of other pieces of machinery.  Therefore, in the absence of the HSE issuing improvement notices to every company which does not have an isolation system, the improvement notice and FFI were contestable.

In response to this, the HSE retracted the improvement notice and corresponding FFI.

This was an example where intervention is occurring for a spurious reasons, one suspects so that FFI targets can be met.  SSS understand that the HSE budget for an inspection and letter incurs an FFI of £750 and an inspection and improvement of prohibition notice incurs an FFI of £1500.

See more about SSS H&S support.

Details of the objection were the following:
  • In other companies where people have been injured on roll label presses, the injuries have occurred where interlocks on guards over in-running nips have been disabled.
  • The client company have a rigorous interlock checking system and so the primary cause of injury on these presses is controlled.
  • Isolation and lock-off is essential when there is the possibility of a person being in a hidden position of danger, but roll label printers such as the Mark Andys at the client company have no hidden spaces.
  • The nature of roll label printing where there is a continuous web means that there is no such thing as a blockage. 
  • Similarly, safety checks are those on the presses are the checking of interlocks.  This is done by lifting each guard and verifying that the machine cannot be started. This obviously requires power to the machine.
  • Therefore, clearance of blockages and safety checks cited in the improvement notice are either not carried out or cannot be done with the machine isolated.  

Tuesday 25 February 2014

2 things you should know if you have air conditioning systems

If you have air conditioning systems, then you need to be aware of the following:

  • If the refrigerant in the system is an HCFC (see below), then it needs to be replaced by the end if this year.
  • If the total power of your air conditioning systems is 12 kW or more, then they must be inspected at least every 5 years.  The regulations that specify this are the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) Regulations where this is buried in the middle as regulation 21. 
How do I know the refrigerant is an HCFC?
Simply check the label on the air conditioning unit (the section outside, not the bits in the rooms).  This will state the code of the refrigerant, say R22 or R410A.  Check this against the list in Technical paper 10 available from 
http://www.strategicsafety.co.uk/Information.html .

Friday 21 February 2014

Pressure test using air instead of water causes horrific injury

Filtration Service Engineering Ltd, a Worcestershire engineering firm has been fined £45,325 (inc. costs) on 20 February 2014 after a worker lost both his legs in a factory blast.
The circumstances were:
  • On 8 December 2011 the company was testing a 335-litre vessel as there were concerns about the quality of the welding. 
  • However, instead of simply filling it with water (which has low stored energy) , the firm decided to use compressed air (which has high stored energy).
  • The factory’s compressed air supply was directly connected to one of the vessel’s openings. 
  • A valve, which could be manually opened and closed, and a pressure gauge were installed, and the vessel filled with compressed air. 
  • The pressure built up to such an extent that eventually the vessel exploded.
  • Clive Dainty was hit by part of the vessel, forcing him into a cabinet against a wall.
  • He was hospitalised for several months and had to have both legs amputated. He also suffered head injuries and has severely restricted movement in his arms, which have been repaired with metal plates.
  • The force of the blast also threw a fire extinguisher through a nearby wooden staircase.

The HSE inspector said:
“The injuries sustained in this incident were more akin to those sustained on a battlefield. The vessel exploded like a bomb during the course of a normal working day, and everyone in the factory was at risk from the operation because no measures were put in place to protect them. Pneumatic testing is a dangerous activity and significant planning is required to ensure the risks are managed. The management of health and safety in this factory was woefully inadequate and simple measures could have been implemented to prevent the incident from happening. An assessment of the risks involved in pneumatic pressure testing should have identified that air was not a suitable testing medium. The test could have been carried out by simply filling the vessel with water. It is a miracle that more people were not injured and that nobody lost their life.”

Removed guarding causes broken arm

One of the country’s largest plastic recycling plants, MBA Polymers UK Ltd, in north Nottinghamshire, has been fined £10,851 (inc. costs) on 14 February 2014 after a worker suffered a broken arm when it became caught in machinery.
The circumstances were:
  • The worker was working alone on a night shift on 2 May 2012 in an area at the top of the factory when the incident happened.
  • He was checking on an auger, a spiral which pushes materials through a metal tube.
  • There was a lack of guarding on this part of the equipment. Guards had been removed and not replaced, leaving the rotating parts unguarded.
  • His sleeve got caught on a bolt protruding from the electric motor driving the auger spiral. 
  • This twisted his sleeve so severely it acted like a tourniquet and broke his arm. 
  • At the same time, the twisted clothing broke the motor driveshaft and the worker was able to cut himself free and call for help.

The HSE inspector said:
“This man suffered very serious injuries to his arm but had he not been fortunate enough to be able to free himself, it could easily have resulted in amputation. Incidents involving entanglement on rotating machinery can be easily avoided if suitable guarding is maintained. The guarding defects had been raised by employees and MBA Polymers was aware of the situation, so there is no excuse for failing to take action.”

Poor lifting practices causes loss of 2 toes

Alumasc Precision Ltd, a Northamptonshire engineering firm has been fined over £16,000 (inc. costs) after a worker sustained a serious foot injury when lifting equipment failed.
The circumstances were:
  • A 400kg die that was being transported across a tool room on 18 May 2012.
  • Although the top half of the die was secured to the crane by eye bolts, the bottom half was secured only by a G-clamp. 
  • As it was being moved, the bottom half fell away and struck the worker on the left foot.
  • Two of his toes, including his big toe, were so severely injured they had to be amputated. 
  • The incident could have been prevented with the use of a robust strap fitted across both halves of the die to prevent the two halves from becoming detached.

The HSE Inspector  said:
“This employee has suffered a severe and needless injury that could have been avoided if the right accessories had been used. Companies must adequately plan and organise all lifting operations – including consideration of the lifting accessories that are being used, and assessments on how lifts are carried out.”

Poor guarding claims two fingers

Dina Foods, a Park Royal food company was fined  £5,477 (inc. costs) on 19th February 2014 after an employee lost the ends of two fingers in a poorly-guarded machine.
The circumstances were:
  • On  4 May 2013 the worker was cleaning the machine and was trying to detach a drum when his foot pressed an operating pedal. 
  • The machine started running and his right hand was caught in the rotating mechanism
  • He suffered partial amputation of the ring finger and serious injury to the little finger of his right hand

The HSE Inspector  said:
“This worker has been severely affected by the injury and now has a long-term impairment. It may have serious consequences on his future work prospects, especially where dexterity is a requirement. If Dina Foods had ensured the machinery was suitably guarded, the incident would not have happened. It was only after enforcement action by HSE that the firm introduced measures that should have been taken before to protect against access to dangerous parts of the equipment. It is not uncommon for employees in manufacturing industries to be injured when cleaning unguarded, operating machinery. The law specifies the measures that should be taken and HSE will prosecute companies which have sub-standard safety precautions in place.”

Saturday 15 February 2014

Man dies during paper-cutting guillotine blade change

Those of you in the Printing Industry may have heard of the recent accident where a man lost his life whilst changing a guillotine blade.

I first spotted the risks of blade changing at a printing company about 12 years ago and have done 160 risk assessments of guillotine blade changing since then.  At training courses I always stress that guillotines are protected up to the eyeballs with light curtains, two-handed control, etc., during normal operation, but the same level of protection is not there during blade change.

My anticipated worst-case outcomes are:
  • Amputation of the foot, or part of it, if the blade is dropped, or 
  • Major lacerations if the blade is swiped horizontally against the body of the person changing the blade or someone nearby.  
I am stunned by this being a fatality.  We don't have the details, but it looks like this was a one-man operation.  Blood flow from a major laceration which, with available first aid support could have been stemmed, could not be tackled by the deceased on his own.
The system of work should be:
  1. Use trained personnel for this.
  2. Have the box as close as possible to the guillotine and at the same height (rather than being on the floor). 
  3. Ensure that housekeeping is good and the area is free from trip and slip hazards.
  4. Use appropriate tools. 
  5. Where there are pedestrian/vehicle routes by the guillotine, barricade the area to protect others.
  6. Avoid this being done as a lone worker operation; however, others must not be "within range" of the blade or distract the person changing the blade.
  7. Whilst not being part of the blade changing operation, ensure that blades in the boxes are stored so that the cannot fall; good practice is to have a simple chain loop and hook so that the box is held against the wall.

This picture shows tools [4], covering blade edge, barricading [5] but housekeeping [3] is poor (trimmings on floor are a slip hazard), and where is the box to which the blade is to be moved?

    Wednesday 5 February 2014

    6 month sentence and £80,000 fine for "Dickensian" owner of lead processing company.

    The owner of LDB Light Alloys Ltd. in Boughton, Nottinghamshire received a 6-month suspended prison sentence and fined £80,000 (inc. costs) failing to protect workers from the risks of lead poisoning after three employees became seriously ill.
    The circumstances were:
    • LDB Light Alloys makes lead sheeting, which involves processing molten lead.
    • Extraction systems, personal protective equipment, respiratory protection, hygiene and rest facilities were all unsatisfactory.
    • No air monitoring or medical surveillance was provided.
    • Personnel had not been told about the effects of lead or how to recognise the symptoms of over-exposure.
    • Lunch breaks were taken in an old, lead-contaminated caravan with no running water. Water was collected in contaminated plastic milk cartons from a contaminated hand washing area in the workshop. Clothes worn for work were not removed before eating and drinking and there was no toilet facility at the factory.
    • One worker, Brook Northey, had the task of scraping off dross (solid impurities on the surface of molten lead in a crucible) and pouring the excess into containers.
    • He required specialist treatment at the West Midlands Poisons Unit after working at LDB Light Alloys Ltd.
    • Mr Northey was hospitalised for three weeks in May 2011 and continued to receive treatment for over a year. He was also off work for a year and can never work with lead again.
    • Prior to being diagnosed with lead poisoning he had been admitted to hospital with renal problems.
    • The HSE served a Prohibition Notice halting all work with immediate effect.

    Sentencing Mr Brown, His Honour Judge Dickinson said:
    “It would take the skill of Charles Dickens to adequately describe the conditions in which your staff worked.”
    The HSE inspector said:
    “Overexposure to lead can have significant long and short-term effects on employees and their lives. Anyone working with lead must put systems in place to control the risks. Mr Brown was reckless in his attitude to the health of his employees. He had not controlled or assessed their exposure to lead or other substances by controlling them at source and had not provided suitable respiratory or   personal protective equipment. He had allowed employees to eat and drink in contaminated areas and had failed to make them aware of the risks and symptoms they might have.”

    Thursday 30 January 2014

    Lack of guarding causes finger loss on packaging machine

    Huhtamaki UK Ltd , who specialise in food and drink packaging and operates 60 manufacturing sites worldwide, have been fined £10,000 (inc. costs) after a  worker lost a finger in an unguarded chain on a machine.
    The circumstances were:
    • The worker was part of a two-man team feeding plastic sheets into the machine after a product change.
    • Huhtamaki failed to fully assess and identify the risks posed by the lack of guarding, and take appropriate action.
    • As he worked from the side of the machine to feed a sheet onto a chain that would draw it inside – described as a spiked bicycle chain – his finger was caught between the chain and a roller.
    • He severed the first finger on his right hand to the bone. It was amputated the following day after surgeons were unable to save it.

    The HSE Inspector said:
    “Incidents of this kind are all too common in the manufacturing sector, and the onus is on employers to ensure appropriate guarding is in place at all times to protect workers. The company had a previously good health and safety record, but on this occasion it fell below the minimum legal standards for safety and an employee was badly injured as a result. The spiked feed chain was easily accessible from the side of the machine, and it was a dangerous moving part that posed a clear risk.”

    Wednesday 29 January 2014

    Worker falls from forks of forklift truck

    Joseph Heler Ltd, a Cheshire cheese manufacturer has been fined £8,709 (inc.costs) after a worker injured his leg and ankle when he fell from the forks of a forklift truck during an unsafe loading operation.
    The circumstances were:
    • The injured worker had been helping to load cheese onto a wagon so it could be delivered to a customer.
    • He was being lifted up to the wagon, with one foot on each prong on the forklift, when the forks hit the back of the vehicle and jolted. 
    • It had become common practice for people to be lifted on forklift prongs. 
    • Despite this being illegal, the company had failed to identify it as an issue.
    • He fell around a metre to the ground below, suffering cuts to his left leg and multiple fractures to his ankle.

    The HSE Inspector  said:
    "The injuries suffered by the worker could easily have been life-threatening had he struck his head when he fell. His employer regularly allowed workers to stand on the forks on forklift trucks, despite this being illegal and posing a clear risk. Joseph Heler failed to give its employees any guidance on how they should access and load the wagon, and failed to put systems in place to make sure the risk of injury was minimised. The changes the company has made following the incident show it would have been possible for the work to be carried out safely.”

    Workers hand drawn into in-running nip on printing press

    Chevler, a Hengoed-based company was fined £13,843 (inc. costs) after an employee’s left hand was crushed when it was drawn into a two centimetre gap between the rollers of a printing machine.
    The circumstances were:
    • The accident occurred on a printing press
    • The printing press was unguarded, allowing workers to get too close to dangerous moving parts.
    • In particular, the drive rollers (blanket and impression cylinders?) had not been identified as a hazard and no safe system for cleaning them was in place.
    • Chevler Ltd had been aware for almost 18 months prior to the incident that a safe isolation procedure was required when cleaning the machine but failed to implement one.
    • The workers was injured when he tried to clean the press after he noticed the final product was developing streaks.
    • As he tried to clean dried ink from the rollers, his hand was drawn into the two-centimetre gap formed by the two counter-rotating drive rollers. The machine had to be reversed manually by another operator to free his hand.

    The HSE Inspector said:
    “This was a completely needless and entirely preventable incident that left  an employee with painful injuries and a long-term disability. The impact on his life has been quite profound. Employers have a clear duty to ensure the health and safety of their staff. The provision of safe systems of work, especially when maintaining or cleaning dangerous machinery is fundamental in this respect. By failing in their duties in this way, Chevler exposed their workers to the risk of injury. Sadly, it is not uncommon for employees in manufacturing industries to be injured when cleaning unguarded, operating machinery. HSE will prosecute companies where key safety procedures for operating and cleaning potentially dangerous machinery are not in place.”

    Lack of guarding over gear on power press crushes man's leg

    Marrill Ltd., an engineering firm, has been fined £21,000 (inc.costs) after a worker’s lower leg was badly crushed in an unguarded machine.
    The circumstances were:
    • The incident happened on 11 October 2012.
    • A maintenance worker had been instructed to investigate and repair a fault on a mechanical power press that had been stopped as it was not working properly.
    • The engineering mechanism on top of the press included a large gear train – a series of large toothed cogs that mesh together and move only when the press completes a stroke. 
    • The gears were not guarded  and had not been for a period of two to three years prior to the incident. 
    • Despite staff being required to work close to the danger area, the company had continuously failed to properly assess the risks.
    • In order to repair the machine, the worker had to reset a solenoid valve on top of the press, very close to the unguarded gear train. 
    • He had little space in which to work and his right leg trailed over the gear train into the danger area.
    • When the valve was reset, the press operated and the gear train turned. His right foot was pulled into the gears as the cogs meshed together, crushing it.

    The HSE Inspector  said:
    “It was the company’s responsibility to ensure that work equipment was safe and that dangerous moving parts were guarded. But for two to three years, Marrill Ltd required staff to approach the danger area around the gears, yet continuously failed to identify and address the matter of the missing guards. This neglect put people at needless risk and sadly, this led to the serious life-changing injuries suffered by the maintenance worker who has had to have the lower part of his leg amputated. Too many incidents occur during the setting up and the undertaking of maintenance tasks on machinery where often guards or other protective devices are moved or removed. They are easily avoided if suitable precautions are taken to prevent access to dangerous moving parts.”

    Wednesday 22 January 2014

    High-tech company fined £22,000 after 2 accidents within 6 weeks

    Fiberweb Geosynthetics Ltd, an Essex-based hi-tech manufacturer has been fined £22,600 (inc costs) after two workers were injured in separate incidents in the space of six weeks.
    Accident 1 & January 2013
    • A two-man team attempted to lift a 70-90kg reel of synthetic plastic material. 
    • This was almost double the weight of reels usually produced and the operation to lift it had not been attempted before. Despite that, Fiberweb Geosynthetics had not assessed the risks involved or made any changes to the system of work.
    • One of the workers lost their grip on the reel causing it fall and trap his co-worker’s hand against the surface of a wrapping table.

    Accident 2 27 February 2013
    • An 850kg machine part was badly secured to a crane during an operation to fit it at a height of about three metres. 
    • The two workers involved had not received training for the operation being undertaken.
    • An eyebolt had been inserted incorrectly leading to it becoming detached whilst the load was suspended.
    • A lack of appropriate supervision meant the worker had taken up a dangerous position below the item.
    • Whilst manoeuvring it into place, the eyebolt detached from its thread causing the part to fall and strike a worker on the head.
    • He suffered a deep cut requiring four staples to close the wound.

    The HSE Inspector said:
    “Both these incidents resulted from failures by Fiberweb Geosynthetics to adequately risk assess operations, issue safe working procedures, and to ensure that employees were not exposed to unacceptably high levels of risk. The second incident could easily have resulted in a much more serious injury or even death, and demonstrates the need to ensure workers are appropriately trained, their competencies properly recorded in an accessible form, and that there is a suitable level of supervision reflecting the degree of risk involved in the operation.”

    Tuesday 14 January 2014

    Poor crane practice results in £80,000 fine

    Renold Power Transmission Ltd., fined £80,000 after a worker’s left hand was badly mangled in the hook on a crane because lifting chains were unavailable.
    The circumstances were:
    • The accident occurred to David Taylor on 14 September 2011.
    • Mr Taylor was operating an overhead crane in the tool preparation area to lift equipment weighing nearly 300kg, using straps that had already been placed around it.
    • The company had failed to produce a written risk assessment for the work. 
    • There was not a safe system of work in place. 
    • Mr Taylor had also never received any formal training to use the crane, despite working for the firm for nearly three months.
    • As he moved the crane with a poorly-labelled handheld control, the equipment slipped out of the straps and started to fall towards him. 
    • He raised his left hand to protect himself but it became caught in one of the straps and was pulled into the crane’s hook.
    • Mr Taylor lost half his thumb, the tip of his index finger, two thirds of his middle and ring fingers, and all of the little finger on his left hand.

    The HSE  inspector stated:
    “One of Renold’s employees has suffered severe injuries to his left hand that will affect him for the rest of his life due to the company’s poor safety system for using the crane. It’s shocking that the chains produced by the company weren’t even available on the day of the incident for use by its own employees. Instead, David had to use an unchoked sling to lift a heavy tool, which led to him being badly injured. If the tool had been properly secured before being lifted then his injuries could have been avoided.

    Failed interlock and poor system of work results in £18,000 fine

    AMR Textiles Ltd., a Kearsley-based fabric manufacturer has been fined £18,103 (inc. costs) after an employee was injured when he was dragged into a machine.
    The circumstances were:
    • The accident occurred on 21 June 2012.
    • A worker climbed into the tower to remove loose strands of fibre so they did not mix with a new type of fibre that needed to be fed into the machine.
    • The access hatch to the tower had been fitted with an interlock to prevent the rollers moving when the hatch was open. 
    • The company had failed to carry out regular checks on the interlock and it was not working at the time of the incident.
    • AMR Textiles had given each supervisor an override key after making changes to the machine which allowed them to override the guards for maintenance or cleaning.
    • A colleague inserted an override key to test another part of the equipment
    • The rollers on which the worker was standing also started rotating, pulling in his left leg up to the knee.
    • He suffered broken bones in his left foot and ankle.

    The HSE Inspector said:
    “The machine should have been perfectly safe to use when it was installed due to the interlock on the tower’s access hatch but AMR Textiles did not make any regular checks to make sure it was working correctly. The company also put employees at risk by giving each of their supervisors an override key. This meant the safety guards were regularly bypassed for routine tasks. The worker should never have been able to climb into the tower while the machine could still be operated, and the changes the company has made since show work to remove the loose fibre could have been carried out safely. It is vital manufacturers think carefully about the potential consequences of making changes to machines or safety procedures, as they risk putting employees’ lives in danger.