Employee lucky to survive after machine accident…
A company based in Hereford involved in the production of nickel alloys has been prosecuted after an employee sustained life-altering injuries after being crushed and burned by falling machinery.
The 37-year-old accident victim was in the process of removing some waste material from a metal casting machine when a component part of the machine came off and crushed him against a storage bin. The machine part weighed 964 kilogrammes and was also operating at a temperature above 100 degrees Celsius. A colleague of the man was also injured when he came to his aid.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to proceed with a prosecution of the company after their investigation revealed that the system of work used to remove moulds from the casting machine was found to be unsafe.
Worcester Crown Court was told that this work process used overhead cranes in order to lift the moulds from the machine which led to damage to both the bolts and their fixing points. The company also failed to implement a maintenance programme that might have detected any faults with the machinery.
The accident victim sustained severe burns to his abdomen,chest and left arm and required skin grafts as a result of the burns he suffered. The crush injuries also had profound implications on his health leading to a removal of part of his bowel and required him to go into intensive care where he was placed on life support in the immediate aftermath of the accident. He will now have to take medication for the rest of his life to treat his injuries and he continues to suffer stomach injuries which curtail his quality of life greatly.
The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £55,000 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector Luke Messenger spoke after the hearing:
“The company failed to make sure there were suitable safe systems in place for removing moulds from its casting machines. Yanking moulds free with the crane caused damage to bolts and their fixings and directly resulted in the collapse of the machine.
“The fixing bolts on a large number of casting machines were in poor repair, but this had not been spotted or put right because routine maintenance checks were not being carried out.
“We also found that the operators responsible for maintaining the machines had not received training and instructions in the replacement of damaged bolts.
“This was an extremely serious incident and the accident victim is fortunate to be alive today. His injuries were life-changing and he has suffered physically and emotionally. He knows he will never be able to work as a foundryman again – a job that he loved.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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