A Barking firm has been prosecuted for safety failings after an employee severed the tendons in his hand on an unguarded saw blade.
The worker, who does not want to be named, needed a five-hour operation to repair the damage following the incident at Kierbeck Thames Ltd, on River Road, on 23 February 2012. He has been left with permanent tingling and bouts of numbness.
Kierbeck, which engineers products for the construction industry, was prosecuted yesterday (10 October) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified that more could and should have been done to make the saw safe.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was using a horizontal band saw to cut down metal bars. He had climbed onto a bench at the back of the saw to undo clips and chains that held a bundle of bars together, but as he moved away he slipped and his right hand went into the machine.
The cutting blade was unguarded at this point and it sliced into his hand.
HSE established that the system of work for cutting down the bars was unsafe because it required employees to work close to dangerous moving parts. The cutting blade could have been better guarded or other measures imposed to keep workers at a safe distance.
Magistrates were told that Kierbeck Thames Ltd was served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE just nine months before the incident, in May 2011, after another horizontal band saw was found to be inadequately guarded.
The standard of machinery guarding across the River Road site was flagged as being a cause for concern, and the company was urged to make wholesale improvements and carry out regular checks in addition to making the offending saw safe.
Despite this warning, inspectors found little sign of any real improvement when they investigated the hand injury incident. Further Improvement Notices were therefore served.
Kierbeck Thames Ltd, of Kierbeck Wharf, River Road, Barking, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £6,033 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said:
“It is extremely disappointing that it took a worker to sustain a serious hand injury for Kierbeck Thames Ltd to finally acknowledge its guarding failings.
“The company was well aware that an incident was inevitable unless improvements were made, and yet our enforcement action and safety advice were seemingly ignored.
“Adequate safeguards must be in place to protect employees from dangerous moving parts, and the onus is on employers to instigate improvements on a proactive basis.”
Notes to Editors
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”