Staff exposed to danger by East Yorkshire company

A Hull-based company, which operates worldwide, has been prosecuted for neglecting the safety of its staff after an agency worker had an arm crushed when it was dragged into a machine.

The worker from East Hull, suffered crush injuries to his right hand and arm in the incident at the Hull based employer a leading manufacturer of industrial conveyor belts.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and today prosecuted the company for serious safety breaches after identifying a lack of, or insufficient, guarding on a number of machines, exposing workers to dangerous moving parts.

Hull Magistrates heard that the employee had worked at the factory for just four months prior to the incident and that it was his first job in the manufacturing sector, having come from an office-based background.

On 27 September 2012, he was on a production line and was using his gloved hand to smooth down a rubber and fabric web that was feeding into a winding machine, a regular activity. However, his hand and then arm were drawn into an in-running nip of the wind-up roller and became trapped.

He managed to reach a safety bar to stop the winder and was freed by colleagues before being rushed to hospital. He has since needed three operations to remove swelling in his arm and skin grafts to repair the damage.

The subsequent investigation found there were no fixed or interlocked guards, light curtains, pressure mats or trip wires provided on the machine to prevent workers accessing dangerous parts. Although J H Fenner & Co Ltd had carried out risk assessments and provided safe working codes, it had not identified the risks of being drawn into the winding mechanisms or provided guidance on when or not to wear gloves.

During the investigation, HSE also witnessed similar hazards when they saw workers on another machine which had no safety measures protecting them from the hazards of the in-running nip.

The company was fined a total of £7,500 and ordered to pay £958 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Mark Welsh said:

“If the worker had not managed to operate the safety bar, and he was working alone at the time, his injuries may have been even more serious.

“Had the company taken the time to provide adequate guarding on the machine and acted on this defect, then the incident would never have occurred. Even after it happened, the company failed to take any action for over four months to safeguard their other employees from dangers on the machine.

“They had also failed to review the risks from other parts of the production line, which we witnessed first-hand during our investigation.”