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Leather manufacturer sentenced over worker’s hand injury

Date:
30 April 2014

A company from Peterborough has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered a broken finger when her hand was dragged into unguarded machinery.

The 25 year-old woman from Poland, who does not wish to be named, was working for E-Leather Ltd at its manufacturing site at Sturrock Way when the incident happened on 30 October 2012. She subsequently required four months’ treatment, but has now returned to work.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court was told today (30 April) that the worker was attempting to clear material from a leather buffing machine after noticing small holes appearing at regular intervals in the leather as it emerged from the out-feed.

After turning the machine off, the worker ran her hand along a powered feed roller to locate the cause. Being unable to do so, she then turned it back on to reverse the roller and, still not finding anything, restarted it with the roller in forward. The feed roller then pulled her fingers into a gap between the roller and the feed table trapping her right hand and breaking her index finger.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed there were no protective guards around the rotating parts of the machine. Furthermore, this was the second time the company had been prosecuted for machinery safety failings following a conviction in September 2010.

E-Leather Ltd of Kingsbury Centre, Sturrock Way, Peterborough, was fined £18,480 and ordered to pay costs of £1,144 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and a breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Graham Tompkins said:

“E-Leather Ltd’s inadequate understanding of risk has meant its workers were exposed to the dangerous moving parts of this machine. A simple guard would have prevented this worker’s painful injury.

“E-Leather has been in court before for very similar safety breaches on its machines so the company was fully aware of the importance of safeguarding dangerous moving parts of machines. However they clearly did not learn from that previous conviction.”

For more information about safety in the leather manufacturing industry visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/leather/index.htm

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. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states:  (1) Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken in accordance with paragraph (2) which are effective (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone. (2) The measures required by paragraph (1) shall consist of (a) the provision of fixed guards enclosing every dangerous part or rotating stock-bar where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then (b) the provision of other guards or protection devices where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then (c) the provision of jigs, holders, push-sticks or similar protection appliances used in conjunction with the machinery where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then (d) the provision of information, instruction, training and supervision. (3) All guards and protection devices provided under sub-paragraphs (a) or (b) of paragraph (2) shall (a) be suitable for the purpose for which they are provided; (b) be of good construction, sound material and adequate strength; (c) be maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair; (d) not give rise to any increased risk to health or safety; (e) not be easily bypassed or disabled; (f) be situated at sufficient distance from the danger zone; (g) not unduly restrict the view of the operating cycle of the machinery, where such a view is necessary; (h) be so constructed or adapted that they allow operations necessary to fit or replace parts and for maintenance work, restricting access so that it is allowed only to the area where the work is to be carried out and, if possible, without having to dismantle the guard or protection device. (4) All protection appliances provided under sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph (2) shall comply with sub- paragraphs (a) to (d) and (g) of paragraph (3).
  3. Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: ‘Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.’
  4. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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