Tuesday 14 January 2014

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.

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