Agency worker hand injury caused by poorly guarded palletiser
31 March 2014
A Welwyn Garden City manufacturing firm has been prosecuted after an agency worker suffered a hand injury while clearing a blockage on a poorly-guarded palletiser machine.
The 33-year-old worker, who does not wish to be named, was attempting to restart a machine at Sika Ltd’s factory after dealing with the blockage when his right hand was struck by a moving part.
He suffered multiple fractures of his hand and lacerations and was unable to return to work to perform a similar role for several months.
The incident, on 12 October 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company at Watford Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that the worker had bypassed an interlocked gate, which was common practice by staff, to clear the blockage in the machine. As he restarted the palletiser, his hand, which was resting on the top frame of the machine, was struck by a moving part which operated the claw mechanism.
HSE found the machine guarding was inadequate to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine. It also found that Sika Ltd had failed to properly assess the risks from using the palletiser. In addition insufficient training and instruction had been provided to workers, and their supervision was inadequate.
The company, which makes speciality chemicals for the construction industry, revised its risk assessment and installed additional guarding to prevent workers from being able to access the machine unless it was suitably isolated.
"The hazards from automated machinery, notably palletisers, are well known and there is a history of serious and fatal accidents occurring at palletiser machinery.”
Sika Ltd, of Watchmead, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, was fined a total of £17,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,219 after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing HSE Inspector James Wright said: "Sika Ltd failed to implement effective measures to ensure workers were not exposed to dangerous parts of machinery.
"They failed to properly assess the risks, ensure the machine was adequately guarded, and that workers were effectively supervised. This has resulted in a worker suffering a serious injury which has greatly impacted on his ability to work.
"The hazards from automated machinery, notably palletisers, are well known and there is a history of serious and fatal accidents occurring at palletiser machinery. Clearing blockages can lead to sudden start-up or movement of machinery so adequate guarding and isolation procedures are essential.”