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Concrete manufacturer fined after worker’s arm pulled into machine

Date:
24 June 2013

An Ayrshire concrete manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered serious injuries to his arm when it became entangled in a machine.

Christopher Fay was using a rolling machine to flatten concrete in a mould when his glove became caught in a metal D-ring connecting the roller to the handle. His arm was drawn into the roller as it turned, breaking it in two places.

Mr Fay needed two plates surgically inserted in his arm and physiotherapy treatment. He no longer has full strength in his right arm leaving him unable to lift heavy loads and has been left with scarring. He has since returned to work with a different company.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court was told today (24 June), that around a month before the incident took place at Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd in Mains Road, Beith, on 18 January 2010, the machine’s handle was leaking hydraulic fluid and was replaced.

The original handle had a ‘hold to run’ mechanism fitted which prevented workers being exposed to the risk of the machine starting automatically, and therefore unexpectedly, if it was turned on remotely. However, the new switch did not have this safety feature and so was capable of being left in the ‘on’ position. No one had noticed the difference.

On the day of the incident the machine was restarted remotely by an employee who was unable to see Mr Fay and other staff working at the roller. Mr Fay was standing close to the machine and his glove was caught in the machinery.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd had failed to recognise that the ‘hold to run’ control switch was a safety feature of the device and failed to maintain it appropriately or replace it with an identical switch.

Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd, of Hillhouse Quarry, Troon, Ayrshire, was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the case HSE Inspector Mark Carroll said:

"While this offence came about through an inadvertent mistake rather than any deliberate failure to comply with standards, not replacing the control switch with a similar ‘hold to run’ device, removed the only safety feature to protect workers from the concrete roller starting unexpectedly.

"As a result Mr Fay was badly injured and permanently scarred. Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd has introduced measures and bought new equipment to avoid a repeat of the incident, but it could have been prevented by better consideration of how the repair work affected the safe operation of the roller."

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. In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation.
  3. Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: "Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair."

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