Worker had not received necessary training despite 12 years in the job… A company based in Leek that manufactures seatbelts and harnesses has been fined by the HSE after an employee was severely burnt at their factory.
The accident victim was a machine operator and was working on a nightshift when the accident occurred on August 2, 2011. The man noticed that some webbing had become trapped around the rollers of the machine he was operating so he decided to climb onto the machine in order to unravel the webbing. However he had failed to isolate the machine and as he tried to remove the webbing from the machine rollers his arms became trapped in the rollers.
The man screamed in pain as the rollers burnt his arms but a nearby colleague didn’t know how to turn off the machine so he ran for help. Eventually the machine was shut down but by this stage the machine operator had sustained serious injuries. He was transferred to North Staffordshire Hospital and then taken to a special burns unit in Birmingham. He was treated there for two weeks and had to have skin grafts on both arms. He has also a permanent loss of sensation in the part of his arms that were burnt. However he has since returned to work for the company.
The subsequent HSE investigation determined that the company had failed to implement a safe working system and had exposed employees to various unnecessary risks in recent times.
Despite the accident victim having worked for the company for 12 years, he had never received any kind of training or guidance to inform him how to remove the webbing from the machines safely.
The HSE served two Improvement Notices on the company specifically requesting them to carry out a thorough risk assessment to ensure employees didn’t have to face unnecessary risks in the workplace.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,827.
HSE Inspector Lyn Spooner spoke after the hearing:
“The accident victim was lucky not to have been more seriously injured or even killed. The rollers pulled both his arms in above his head and trapped him for what can have only been a terrifying number of minutes.
“The consideration given to the risks of operating this machine was not suitable or sufficient, and supervision and monitoring was also inadequate. The picture that emerged of the company is one that failed to develop an effective safety management system. In doing so they exposed their employees over a prolonged period to significant risk every day they came to work, ending in a tragic incident that could and should have been prevented.
“There is no excuse for companies failing to discharge their health and safety duties, especially when these failings lead to someone being hurt. HSE will continue to take action against those who fail to protect their employees.”