Black Country Magistrates’ Court has fined a fabrications firm £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,391 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The court heard that a 32 year old employee from Dudley was drilling holes in some component parts in December 2013 when his glove got caught in an unguarded drill.
The worker required surgery to amputate the tip of his finger and needed three months off work to recover.
An investigation held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident revealed that the firm did in fact have a safety system of work in place which was fully documented. The HSE told the court that the document outlined the need to place the guard in position and check it before use. However, the guard had been removed and not replaced.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Judith Lloyd said:
“The incident was entirely preventable. The underlying cause was that it was custom and practice to use the drill without a guard in place. Instruction for employees was lacking and there was no system in place to check that guards were being used correctly, despite having a written procedure.
“It was reasonably practicable to guard the drill and it had in fact been guarded in the past. Wearing gloves without an appropriate guard significantly increased the risk of entanglement, something the company had been provided with advice on during a previous inspection”.
“Following the incident the job was completed on a programmable automatic drilling machine which begs the question, why didn’t the company use this method from the start? If it had, a man would have been spared a painful injury.”
Further information about managing the risks associated with machinery can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/