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Leading print firm’s safety failures led to injury

Date:
6 March 2014

A national printing company has been prosecuted for safety failings after a Leeds worker suffered a partial finger amputation because dangerous parts of a machine weren’t properly guarded.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident at Polestar UK Print Ltd’s factory in Whitehall Road, Leeds, on 12 February 2012.

Leeds Magistrates were told today (6 March) that the 55-year-old employee was injured as he attempted to remove a blockage from a magazine insert feeder machine.

He was removing debris from cogs within the machine when it unexpectedly started up again, turning the cogs slightly and creating a shear point. His right hand was caught and part of his first finger was sliced off.  He has since been able to return to work.

HSE found the machine was not isolated from its power source and there were insufficient safety measures in place to prevent access to the dangerous moving parts.

It also identified Polestar UK Print Ltd had not provided a safe system of work for getting into the machine to clear blockages or to carry out maintenance. Access was via a side panel that should either have been interlocked to prevent the machine running when the panel was removed, or fixed into place with a special tool.

Polestar UK Print Ltd., of Apex Centre, Boscombe Road, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £2,997 in full costs after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Bradley Wigglesworth said:

“There is no excuse for companies to operate without protecting employees from dangerous parts of machinery. The requirement for guarding is well known and understood by industry.

“Polestar’s failure to properly assess the risks or implement a safe system for isolation and lock-off had serious consequences. Had their guarding standards been of an acceptable standard, the worker’s injury could have been avoided.”

For information on safety in manufacturing, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing

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 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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