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28th January 2013

Firm fined £60,000 After Workers Hair is Ripped out by Machinery

A Deeside company has recently been fined £60,000 after a young worker was severely injured when her hair was ripped out by poorly guarded machinery.

The 25 year old employee was sorting clothes hangers on a conveyor when her scarf and hair became caught in the chain and sprocket drive of the belt as she bent over to remove accumulated hangers. She sustained serious throat injuries, lost a substantial part of her hair and fractured a finger in the incident on 11 April 2009.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company for serious safety failings at Mold Crown Court.

HSE found that the company had fitted a guard to the conveyor but it did not fully enclose the dangerous moving parts. There was no emergency stop button on the conveyor which could have lessened the impact of the incident. In addition, the company’s risk assessment failed to identify the dangers of entanglement in conveyors, and the need to keep hair and loose clothing secure when near the machinery was poorly enforced.

The company pleaded guilty on 17th January 2013 to breaching three regulations under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and one breach under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health at Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The court fined the business a total of £60,000 and ordered the company to pay costs of £21,668.

The HSE Inspector involved in the case said:

“There are well-known risks associated with working with conveyor belts. It is vital, therefore, that the risks are fully assessed and guarding provided to prevent access to moving parts. Where appropriate, emergency stop controls should be installed in readily accessible places.

“Employers must also ensure that workers are properly monitored, supervised and trained when working with this sort of equipment.”

Further information on machinery guarding can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l22.htm

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