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Hampshire engineering firm fined for safety failings

Date:
12 March 2013

A Southampton engineering firm has been fined after an employee seriously injured his foot on a poorly-guarded aluminium casting machine.

Paul Thornton, 52, from Southampton, had to have a toe on his right foot amputated as a result of the incident at WH Rowe Limited, on Bond Street, on 9 May 2012. He also sustained five fractures to his remaining toes and cut his head.

He was unable to work for 13 weeks, but has since returned.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard today (12 March) that Mr Thornton was working on a machine that casts large fan blades from molten aluminium, and was using a new mould.

While operating the machine his foot was crushed and trapped by a lower ram. He was only freed when colleagues were able to support him and reverse the machine to release his foot.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that safety devices fitted to the casting machine had been bypassed and were not suitable or sufficient to prevent access to dangerous moving parts. Had the machine been better guarded, with the safety devices properly configured, then the incident could have been prevented.

HSE also established that the company had failed to carry out a proper risk assessment for the operation of the machine, which would have enabled them to establish the standard of necessary safeguarding.

WH Rowe, of Quayside Road, Southampton, was fined a total of £7,000 and ordered to pay £4,694 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

After the hearing HSE inspector Alec Ryan said:

"This incident was wholly preventable and could have been avoided had WH Rowe carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and taken the necessary measures to make the machine safe.

"The machine in question was very powerful and it is wrong that a worker was put at unnecessary risk because safety devices weren’t working.

"Incidents of this kind are all too common and it is vital employers prevent access or exposure to dangerous moving parts at all times."

Information and advice on safe working in engineering can be found online at www.hse.gov.uk/engineering

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.
  3. Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1998 states: "Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking.

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