21 August 2013
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli has appeared in court after an employee sustained major injuries to his left arm when it became trapped in a tyre-testing machine.
The 57-year-old from Carlisle, who has asked not to be named, broke his arm in three places, was off work for four months and still has difficulty moving his shoulder following the incident on 3 January 2012.
Pirelli Tyres Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that the safety procedures for carrying out maintenance work on the machine were poor.
Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard the worker was trying to fix a fault on the machine, which lubricates, inflates and then measures tyres, which occurred when it was switched back on following the Christmas shutdown.
He switched it to manual mode and removed one of the guards to repair the fault in the lubricating part of the machine. The employee then returned the machine to automatic mode and it processed two tyres successfully before becoming struck again.
Without thinking, he reached back into the machine which then began operating, trapping his arm.
The HSE investigation found that the fault had occurred several times in the past after the machine was restarted following previous Christmas shutdowns, but Pirelli had failed to carry out a specific risk assessment for this maintenance work.
There was also limited supervision of the maintenance employees, general knowledge of the company’s written health and safety procedures was poor, and there was no system in place to check that the company’s Safe Working Procedures guidelines were being followed in practice.
Pirelli Tyres Ltd, of Derby Road in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £4,330 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 21 August 2013.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Michael Griffiths said:
"A moment’s lapse in concentration left an employee with major injuries to his left arm because Pirelli’s management of the risks from maintenance work wasn’t good enough.
"The fault with the machine had occurred before, following previous Christmas breaks, but the company didn’t have a specific risk assessment in place to make sure it could be fixed safely.
"Although Pirelli did have written Safe Working Procedures, they were not effective because the employees were either unaware of them or weren’t following them, and no effort was made to check that the procedures were being followed.
"This incident could have been avoided if Pirelli had done more to make sure that risks were being properly assessed and its employees were following safe working practices."
The latest figures show 20 people were killed while working in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2012/13. Information on improving safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.
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."