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Engineering firm in court after worker’s hand pulled into machinery

Date:
10 March 2015

An Aberdeenshire firm has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was injured when his gloved hand was pulled into a metalworking lathe.

Mariusz Toporek, 23, living in Macduff but originally from Poland, was employed by Macduff Shipyards Limited in its precision engineering department and was working on a lathe when the incident happened on 19 March 2013.

The lathe had been remotely set to the correct new diameter by computer, but Mr Toporek had switched to manual mode and was using emery cloth to finish the pins off when the emery cloth caught in the machinery, pulling his gloved right hand in with it.

Mr Toporek suffered strained tendons in two fingers and a fractured bone in his hand, and was off work for four weeks as a result.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to carry out any assessment of the risks relating to work in the precision engineering department or for the use of any of the machinery within it.

Inspectors also found that the day-to-day running of the workshop, including health and safety, was left to the operations manager, who had received no specific training for this role and whose knowledge was limited.

The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment for the use of emery cloths – which was seen as normal practice – and therefore workers had developed and used an unsafe working method. Safer alternatives were available but had not been explored.

Banff Sheriff Court was told today (10 March) that the company had two previous convictions for health and safety breaches in December 1999 and August 2000, resulting in fines of £500 and £2,000 respectively.

Macduff Shipyards Limited of The Harbour, Macduff, Aberdeenshire was fined £8,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Niall Miller said:

“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The dangers of wearing gloves when working with lathes are well known.

“Macduff Shipyards Limited should have been aware of the risks to workers in its precision engineering department and should have given them appropriate training and supervision.

“As there was no official system of work planned by the company, workers used methods that were unsuitable and which put them at risk, ultimately ending up with Mr Toparek sustaining injuries to his right hand and being unable to work for four weeks.”

HSE guidance on avoiding injuries on metalworking lathes was first published in 1993, and updated in 2004. It is available to download for free by clicking on ‘Engineering leaflets’ at www.hse.gov.uk/engineering

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. In Scotland, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation

3. Regulation 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.”

4. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk/

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