Manufacturing company fined after worker loses part of hand

A manufacturing company based in  West Yorkshire, has been fined for safety breaches after a worker lost part of their hand in a textile machine.

On 24 March 2021 an employee was running a number of textile machines. When he opened a guard to check on a build-up of fibres, he reached in to remove material, losing part of his hand.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that one of the machines had a defective interlock device. This allowed the machine to continue running when the guard, which was located over a pair of in-running rollers and gears, was opened.

The West Yorkshire company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £15,750 and ordered to pay £759 in costs at Leeds Magistrates’ Court.

HSE inspector Julian Franklin said: “Machine guarding should be in line with the appropriate standard, and regularly checked.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply training staff in the safe and correct way of operating machinery, and regularly checking that safety devices are functioning.”

This is a good example of what happens at businesses across Britain on a daily basis, people make assumptions that equipment is always in good condition and fit for purpose.   Unfortunately this isn’t the case and when it goes wrong someone usually gets hurt.

The company has a legal duty to keep people safe and should achieve this by:

  • Risk assessing the operation
  • Implement controls
  • Train the employees on the controls
  • Check the controls are working
  • Introduce preventive maintenance
  • Review the controls on a regular basis

This accident could easily be avoided by having:

  • a Safe System of Work in place which has been communicated and is enforced by management
  • Doing daily documented safety checks on the machinery, this would identify if  interlocks had failed or been bypassed
  • However the best control would be to isolate the machine prior to doing any internal works.

The costs involved in this case do not include the private personal injury claim that the individual could take against the company for not maintaining equipment  and how life changing losing part of his hand may be to the individual as this  cannot be quantified.  

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