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Safety failings put West Sussex firm in court

Date:
11 September 2013

A Worthing company that makes audio equipment used by leading recording studios has been fined after a worker broke an arm in an unguarded machine.

Mark Mann, 42, who lives in Worthing, was attempting to correct a fault in a vacuum-forming machine used to manufacture loudspeaker cones at B&W Group Ltd in Dale Road on 1 November 2011.

He had his right arm through a gap in the machine when its cooling cycle stopped and the gap closed, fracturing the upper bones and causing nerve damage. He needed a plate inserted to help heal the break and was unable to return to work for seven months. He has since been made redundant.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted (11 Sept) B&W Group Ltd for safety failings.

Worthing Magistrates were told Mr Mann had thought the machine’s fault was being caused by a pipe that had kinked. He had accessed a gap while the machine was in the cooling cycle, during which the vacuum table is raised. At the end of the cycle the raised table part dropped, trapping Mr Mann’s arm.

HSE found the company had done an assessment of the risks involved in using the machine but had only considered burn injuries rather than any danger from the moving parts. It found there was no guarding on the machine to prevent employees getting too close to the dangerous part of the equipment while in operation.

B&W Group Ltd was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £6,978 in costs after admitting a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Graham Goodenough, said:

"This case shows the importance of carrying out a thorough assessment of all the risks involved in machinery. What happened to Mr Mann was easily avoidable and shortly after the incident the company did fit a suitable guard to the machine that would have prevented it happening.

"The HSE provides a wide range of free guidance to help companies carry out risk assessments to ensure equipment is safe for their employees to use."

For information and advice on safety in the manufacturing industry, visit www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing

Notes to Editors

  1. 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
  2. Regulation 11(1)(b) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations states; "Every employers shall ensure that measures are taken….to top the movement of any dangerous part of machinery before any person enters a danger zone."

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