A County Durham firm has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries to his hand when it was caught in the rollers of a glue machine with a broken safety guard.
The 59-year-old employee of Elite Composite Products Ltd was attempting to clean the rollers of a glue rolling machine at its premises in Trimdon Grange when the incident happened on 3 September 2012.
The worker, who does not wish to be named, lifted a hinged guard to gain access to the rollers but as he started cleaning them his right hand was drawn into the rollers. Some of skin from his hand was stripped by the moving machinery and he also sustained damage to the carpal tunnel in his wrist and muscle damage to his thumb.
The man, from Trimdon Grange, was in hospital for four days and required treatment and physiotherapy for five months. He began a phased return to work seven months after the incident.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today (6 May) prosecuted Elite Composite Products Ltd at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court for serious safety failings after an investigation into the incident.
The court heard that the guard covering the rollers was connected to an interlocking safety device designed to stop the rollers turning when the guard was raised. But the device was broken, so the rollers did not stop.
HSE found that Elite Composite Products Ltd did not have proper maintenance and safety check systems in place that would have identified the broken safety device. As a result, it failed to provide effective measures to prevent any contact with dangerous moving parts of machinery.
Elite Composite Products Ltd, of Trimdon Grange Industrial Estate, Trimdon Grange, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,188.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Cain Mitchell, said:
“This incident could have been easily prevented if Elite Composite Products Ltd had systems in place to identify faults on the machinery and its safety systems.
“Had this been the case, the broken safety device would have been spotted and the company could have repaired it to ensure that workers did not come into contact with the dangerous moving machine parts.
“Instead, the firm’s failures mean a worker has suffered severe, life-changing injuries.”
For more health and safety advice for those working in the manufacturing industry visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing/index.htm
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. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work 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.’ 3. Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press