Dudley Magistrates’ Court has fined a welding firm £53,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,100 after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
The incident occurred in the summer of 2013 when a self-employed electrical contractor was working on a faulty welding machine. The worker inadvertently pressed the wrong button which caused the machine to activate the holding fixture crushing his hand.
The company failed to report the accident to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) but the HSE were anonymously notified four weeks later.
A subsequent HSE inspection revealed a series of significant health and safety failings.
The court heard that the company had acquired the equipment from another firm but it had been modified allowing manual intervention rather than robot control.
Modifying safety locks thus allowed personnel to access the machinery whilst it was still in operation and buttons were dangerously close to the moving parts which had no fitted guards.
The worker suffered severe crush injuries to his hand and required an operation to amputate two fingers.
The HSE inspection also revealed that no risk assessments had been made for the use of the modified machinery and other equipment on site was deemed unsafe.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector John Glynn said:
“The company builds and sells its welding machines to major manufacturing companies worldwide. As original manufacturers they are fully aware of the legal requirements to supply machines with all the required safety measures. They were therefore grossly negligent to allow the use of this machine within their own premises in its modified state”