Wednesday 29 January 2014

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.”

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