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Manufacturer fined after worker's hand trapped in machine

19 July 2013

A Stirling insulation manufacturer has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered injuries to his hand and arm when it became trapped in an unguarded part of a machine.

Scott Robertson, then aged 28, from Stirling, was working at Superglass Insulation Ltd at its premises on the Thistle Industrial Estate, when the incident happened on 25 November 2010.

Stirling Sheriff Court was told today (19 July) that Mr Robertson was working on a production line where fans drew trimmed edges of mineral wool insulation into ducting and recycled them back into the production process.

On the day of the incident the trimmed edges of wool had become trapped inside the ducting and Mr Robertson became involved in trying to dislodge the blockage.

Two days earlier the company had replaced one of the fans on the production line and re-located both it and the ducting on the floor next to the trimming mill guide roller. It was this section of ducting beneath the conveyor belt that was blocked.

As Mr Robertson crouched under the machine his hi-vis vest became entangled in the conveyor belt and started to pull him head-first towards the roller. He put out his right hand to stop his head and body being drawn into the machine, and it was pulled into the in-running nip in the trimming mill guide roller, trapping it between the conveyor belt and the roller.

Hearing Mr Robertson’s screams, colleagues pressed the emergency button to stop the conveyor belt and his arm was freed. He suffered bruising to his right hand and arm and has since made a full recovery.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Superglass Insulation Ltd had not carried out any risk assessment on the area of the production line where Mr Robertson was injured. Such an assessment should have taken place prior to the fan and ducting being relocated there.

In addition, adequate guarding had not been put in place to prevent access to the area of the conveyor belt and roller and the area underneath.

The court also heard that although the company had previously identified the need to undertake a risk assessment for guarding the production lines, this had not happened.

Superglass Insulation Ltd, Thistle Industrial Estate, Kerse Road, Stirling, was fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Michelle Gillies said:

"This incident was entirely foreseeable and preventable. It would have been prevented by a proper risk assessment and the installation of adequate guarding. Guarding is essential to prevent fingers, hands and limbs from being drawn into the nip joint and this kind of hazard is well known and acknowledged in the design and operation of industrial machinery.

"Guarding should have been provided prior to re-routing the ducting as there was a clear risk of an operator being pulled, either by a limb or by their clothing, into the conveyor belt and roller."

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.
  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. Section 2 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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