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Firm fined after worker suffers severe burns

Date:
15 January 2015

A Highland manufacturing company has been fined for safety failings after a worker suffered severe burns to both arms as he tried to clear a blockage in an unguarded machine.

Miroslaw Grzybowski, 37, was working on a production line at SGL Carbon Fibers in Muir of Ord, when the incident happened on 13 February 2011.

Dingwall Sheriff Court heard today (15 Jan) that Mr Grzybowski was working on a production line to heat-treat carbon fibres where the material is pulled through a series of ovens operating at increasing temperatures. On the day of the incident he was heading for his break when he noticed that the carbon fibre material coming out of an oven had wrapped around a roller.

He and his deputy team leader went to the front of the oven, which was heated to 200C, and Mr Grzybowski climbed through the barrier and began to move the material that had caught using his left hand.

The deputy team leader, unaware that Mr Grzybowski still had his hand inside the machine, instructed another operator to open the nip roller, which narrowed the gap between two rollers trapping Mr Grzybowski’s left wrist.

He reached in with his right hand to withdraw his left and burned that wrist too. He was wearing company-provided gloves and safety jumper but was not wearing the Kevlar arm sleeves provided by SGL.

Mr Grzybowski was taken to hospital with severe burns to the back of both his wrists and a first degree burn to the inside of his right forearm. The following week he underwent surgery to have skin grafts on his wrists and spent a week in hospital before returning to work with the company.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that despite suitable guarding being installed on similar trapping points on other production lines, SGL had failed to identify the risk on the line Mr Grzybowski worked on.

The company also failed to identify the risk to employees of being in very close proximity to the machine during the recovery activity and there was a failure to ensure that the process was stopped or workers withdrawn from the area before continuing.

Additionally, SGL failed to ensure that the need to access dangerous moving parts, namely the rollers, was prevented or controlled or that the movement of those dangerous parts stopped before workers entered into the danger zone.

SGL Carbon Fibers Ltd, of Muir of Ord Industrial Estate, Great North Road, Muir of Ord, Easter Ross, was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the case, HSE inspector Mac Young, 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 coming into contact with them. SGL Carbon Fibers Ltd should have identified the risk posed to workers on this particular production line and made sure it was adequately guarded as they had done on other lines.

“Suitable guarding coupled with adequate information, instruction and supervision would have played a large part in avoiding this incident. The injuries suffered by Mr Grzybowski were further compounded by the high temperature of the roller.”

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. 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. 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. 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 press.hse.gov.uk

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