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.