A manufacturing firm has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was injured when his hand was caught on the moving parts of a lathe at an Ayrshire factory.
Gordon Campbell, then aged 55, an employee of the firm, suffered cuts and tendon damage to his right hand in the incident at Omnitool Ltd, in Kyle Road, Irvine Industrial Estate, Irvine.
He had to have surgery to repair the tendon damage and was off work for ten weeks, but made a full recovery and returned to work at the company.
Mr Campbell, an experienced CNC turner, was working on a lathe to produce a component for use in the oil and gas industry. The lathe was fitted with interlocking safety doors to prevent access to the moving parts, but this safety feature had been disabled and the door was open to allow him to see work progressing on the component.
A piece of metal cutting came loose and Mr Campbell reached in with pliers in his right hand to take it away, but his hand came into contact with the rotating part of the lathe. He pressed the emergency stop button with his left hand and was taken to hospital after being given first aid.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that while Omnitool Ltd had assessed the risks of various tasks within the factory, and interlocking safety doors were fitted to the lathe, the safety device on the lathe had been deliberately disabled by the company with a piece of tape used to override the interlock. This meant the lathe continued to operate with the door open.
The court was told that it was understood the machine was able to operate without the interlocks for around six years and one of the interlocks had also been switched off at the control panel.
Ayr Sheriff Court was told on Monday (1 June) that one reason for lathes being used with the doors open was to allow operators to view progress on a component. The doors were fitted with a glass panel, but over time these became scratched so viewing the work became difficult.
Following the incident the company continued to use the lathe until HSE served a Prohibition Notice on 1 February 2013 preventing its use until the safety devices were fully operational. The company then acted quickly to restore the function of the safety devices and also replaced the glass panels and installed lighting within the machines to improve visibility.
Omnitool Ltd, of Kyle Road, Irvine Industrial Estate, Irvine, Ayrshire, was fined £4,700 after pleading guilty to one charge of breaching Regulation 11(1) and (2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Following the case, HSE Inspector Callum MacDonald said:
“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The dangers of working with machinery are well known.
“Omnitool Limited had deliberately taken steps to override the safety measures that had been identified and knowingly caused and permitted the lathe to be operated without the interlocks working.
“As a result of the company’s failings, Mr Campbell suffered injuries to his right hand which could have been a lot worse.”
For more information about work equipment and machinery safety log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/index.htm
Notes to Editors:
- 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. hse.gov.uk
- 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.
- Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken… to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
- Regulation 11(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “The measures required by paragraph (1) shall consist of: (a) the provision of fixed guards enclosing every dangerous part or rotating stock-bar where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then; (b) the provision of other guards or protection devices where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then; (c) the provision of jigs, holders, push-sticks or similar protection appliances used in conjunction with the machinery where and to the extent that it is practicable to do so, but where or to the extent that it is not, then; (d) the provision of information, instruction, training and supervision.”
- HSE news releases are available at hse.gov.uk/press