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18th November 2016

Packaging firm fined £70K over machinery safety breaches

A packaging company has been fined £70,000 with a further £53,000 in costs after a worker’s thumb was severed due to the company’s failure to take adequate measures to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

In what is a very common accident with machinery of this nature, the Court heard how an employee reached through an unguarded section in the frame of one of the machines to clean ink from a roller. The rag he was using got caught in one of the motorised cogs, causing his hand to be pulled into the rotating cogs. His left thumb was severed, resulting in him receiving skin grafts in hospital and being unable to work for 15 weeks.

Although the company had partially guarded the rollers and cogs of the machine with an interlocked guard, they failed to take adequate measures to prevent access to all dangerous parts of machinery. It is understood that the company only decided to install a simple clear plastic guard to prevent access to the machinery the day after the accident.

The HSE investigation uncovered a catalogue of errors – the company’s risk assessment had been written nine years earlier by an employee untrained in creating risk assessments. Furthermore, the assessment did not even identify risks related to unguarded machinery or any control measures!

The court heard the company had previously been served with several HSE Improvement Notices highlighting machinery guarding issues.

The HSE inspector involved in the case said: “The employee’s life changing injuries could have been prevented if a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been completed and the correct control measures implemented.


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