A company which makes metal components for the automotive industry has been fined after a worker suffered horrific hand injuries in an incorrectly-guarded machine.
The 56-year-old agency worker, who has asked not to be named, was operating a 160-tonne power press at RSM Industries Ltd’s factory in School Lane, Exhall, when the incident happened on 8 May 2013.
He had his hand in the machine removing finished pieces of metal when he accidentally hit the foot pedal, causing the machine to start up.
Magistrates in Nuneaton today (30 June) heard the worker’s right hand was crushed and he had to have three and a half fingers and half his palm amputated.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the machine had had new guards fitted but the interlock, which prevented the press from operating if the guards were anything other than fully closed, had not been correctly adjusted and set.
In addition the company’s daily checks failed to pick up the fault with the guards on 12 separate occasions.
RSM Industries Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £8,000 with £11,300 costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Sue Thompson said:
“The worker suffered life-changing injuries. He spent 35 hours in surgery undergoing seven different operations and is now severely disabled with the loss of his dominant hand. He has not been able to return to work and is still receiving treatment.
“Yet this incident was entirely preventable had the company thoroughly examined the machine before it was brought back into use and carried out adequate daily checks. The fact the fault was missed a dozen different times shows a complete lack of diligence.”
There are around a dozen deaths and 40,000 injuries each year due to incidents where workers have been using machines. Further information on the safe use of machinery can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/
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.
3. Section 3(1) of the same Act states: It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.