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Firm fined after worker loses forearm

Date:
5 February 2015

An Edinburgh manufacturing company has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker had to have his arm amputated after it became trapped in a machine.

Akshay Phale, then 27, was working at the rear of a machine at Farnbeck Ltd at its Leith premises when the incident happened on 5 June 2012.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard today (5 Feb) that Mr Phale was attempting to wrap cotton fabric around a rotating wooden cylinder on a machine that is then used in the security printing industry worldwide for the printing of paper money.

As he carried out his task, a nearby colleague heard a scream. He shouted to another worker to shut everything down and ran to Mr Phale’s aid. He saw his colleague’s arm had been entangled between the rotating cylinder and the wrapped fabric.

Mr Phale was unable to release his fingers due to the tension of the fabric around the cyclinder. As the cylinder was rotating it pulled his hand around it, causing his forearm to become trapped. The fabric was cut to ease the tension, but he was trapped for almost an hour until other employees, together with the fire service, were able to disconnect the motor and release his arm.

The injured worker was taken to hospital where he underwent several operations over a 17-day period, including the amputation of his right forearm below the elbow. He required several months of physiotherapy and has sustained permanent scarring on his back, arm, leg and right hand. He has not yet been able to return to work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the practice of allowing the cylinder to continue to turn when the wrapping process was being carried out had been in place at the firm for over 30 years.  However, for that entire period the risk to employees of having their fingers, hands and clothing caught within the mechanism had not been identified.

Consequently no measures were put in place to minimise the risk or to change the systems of work.

Farnbeck Ltd, of Swanfield, Old Bonnington Road, Edinburgh was fined £46,660 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE inspector Hazel Dobb said:

“This incident was entirely foreseeable and therefore entirely preventable. Where an employee is able to gain access to dangerous moving parts, there is a risk of injury.

“Farnbeck Ltd should have identified the risk posed to workers on this particular machine and made sure the rotating cylinder was switched off prior to employees coming into close contact with it.

“This unsafe practice had been carried out for many years and it is fortunate that there have been no other serious incidents as a result.”

For more information about machinery safety log onto the HSE website at:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/machinery/safety.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.

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. Section 2 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. 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 atpress.hse.gov.uk

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