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Firm in court after worker's hand crushed in machinery

Date:
10 September 2013

A Tyneside firm has been fined after a worker’s hand was badly crushed in a machine on which a safety guard had been deliberately disabled.

David Potts, 31, from Stanley, sustained nerve damage in the incident at Radford HMY Group Limited, in Burnopfield, Newcastle on 10 February 2012 and had no strength or feeling in his right hand for several months.

The company was prosecuted today (10 September) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified serious safety failings.

Consett Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Potts was attempting to reposition a component that had become jammed on a shelving assembly and welding machine, causing the machine to stop.

However, once it was moved back into the correct position, the machine immediately restarted and the man’s right hand became trapped between a moveable robotic arm and a fixed section of the machine’s frame. It was crushed for around five minutes before he was freed and taken to hospital for treatment.

The HSE investigation found that an interlocking device to prevent access to dangerous parts of the machine had been defeated, which allowed workers to easily enter the machine enclosure whilst the machine was still running. The company failed to ensure that the machinery and its interlocking safety devices were in effective working order, as is required by law.

Radford HMY Group Limited, of the Hobson Industrial Estate, Burnopfield, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,388.30 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Cain Mitchell said:

"Mr Potts suffered a serious and preventable injury because of the failure by Radford HMY Group Limited to ensure that safety devices were maintained in an effective condition and that suitable procedures were in place to safely enter the machine enclosure.

"Too many incidents occur during the setting up and the undertaking of maintenance tasks on machinery. They are easily avoided if suitable precautions are taken to prevent access to dangerous moving parts."

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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. 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."

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