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Safety failings led to worker’s serious hand injury

Date:
27 January 2014

A Hengoed-based company has been sentenced after an employee’s left hand was crushed when it was drawn into a two centimetre gap between the rollers of a printing machine.

The 55-year-old worker, an experienced printer from Merthyr Tydfil, needed two operations on his severely injured hand and has since suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

The incident at the food packaging premises of Chevler Ltd on 30 August 2012 was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the company charged with serious safety breaches.

Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard today (27 Jan) that HSE found the printing machine was unguarded, allowing workers to get too close to dangerous moving parts. In particular, the drive rollers had not been identified as a hazard and no safe system for cleaning them was in place.

In addition, Chevler Ltd had been aware for almost 18 months prior to the incident that a safe isolation procedure was required when cleaning the machine but failed to implement one.

Magistrates were told the worker, who does not wish to be identified, was injured when he tried to clean the printer at the factory in Tir-y-Berth Industrial Estate after he noticed the final product was developing streaks.

As he tried to clean dried ink from the rollers, his hand was drawn into the two-centimetre gap formed by the two counter-rotating drive rollers. The machine had to be reversed manually by another operator to free his hand.

He was off work for almost nine months but has since returned to work on light duties.

Chevler Ltd, of Tir-y-Berth Industrial Estate, Hengoed, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £5,843 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Gethyn Jones said:

“This was a completely needless and entirely preventable incident that left  an employee with painful injuries and a long-term disability. The impact on his life has been quite profound.”

“Employers have a clear duty to ensure the health and safety of their staff. The provision of safe systems of work, especially when maintaining or cleaning dangerous machinery is fundamental in this respect. By failing in their duties in this way, Chevler exposed their workers to the risk of injury.

“Sadly, it is not uncommon for employees in manufacturing industries to be injured when cleaning unguarded, operating machinery. HSE will prosecute companies where key safety procedures for operating and cleaning potentially dangerous machinery are not in place.”

For further information please go to: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/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. HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press.

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