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Safety failings led to worker's injury

Date:
19 February 2013

A former Gateshead firm has been sentenced after an employee had two fingers broken when her hand was drawn into the dangerous moving parts of a large stitching machine.

The 52-year-old, of Gateshead who asked not to be named, suffered damage to her blood vessels and broken bones to the middle and ring finger of her left hand after the incident at SHO123 Limited on 29 September 2011. She has been unable to return to work since.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and prosecuted the company at Gateshead Magistrates’ Court today (19 February).

Magistrates heard that the worker had been asked to cover the operation of a quilt production line, which was already up and running when she arrived at work.

She was told there was a problem with the quilts running through the large chain stitch machine, which formed part of the line, so she called for an engineer.

The machinery was switched off while the engineer investigated the problem at the folding section of the line. Meanwhile the worker was told there was also a problem with the top stitch, so she went to the rear of the machine to re-thread one of the bobbins.

When the engineer finished the maintenance at the folding section, he shouted that he was going to re-start the machine. However, the worker was out of sight and still attempting to re-thread the bobbin. As the engineer did not hear any reply or see anyone working he re-started the machinery.

He heard a scream, immediately hit the emergency stop button and then discovered the worker at the rear of the stitch machine with her hand caught in the rotating part of the machine.

HSE found that there were no safeguards in place to stop the worker accessing the dangerous parts of the machinery. The incident could have been prevented if the company had provided effective safety measures on the plant machinery.

SHO123 Limited, of Jewry Street, Winchester, Hampshire, previously based at Stoneygate Lane, Felling in Gateshead, was given a 12-months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £9,545 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall, said:

"The worker’s injury could have been avoided if there had been an effective guard in place and if the SHO123 had continued with a planned programme for the installation of safety guards on its plant and machinery.

"Unguarded or poorly guarded machinery is the cause of many injuries in workplaces across the country. In 2010/11 more than 1,000 people were seriously injured from contact with the dangerous moving parts of machines.

"Employees should not be exposed to risks to their safety through their everyday work."

For information and advice on safe working with machines 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) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: "Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken …to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.

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