A chemical company in East Yorkshire has been prosecuted after an employee lost the ends of three fingers in an unguarded part of a machine collecting calcium oxide dust.
The 51-year-old worker was attempting to adjust a bag that was capturing the chemical dust below a collection unit at Omya UK Ltd when his left hand slipped and came into contact with a shear point created by a rotating valve.
The moving part severed the tips of his first, second and third fingers to the first joint. He has since recovered and been able to return to work.
The incident, on 14 Feb 2013 at the firm’s site in Melton, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today (18 Nov) prosecuted the firm for safety failings at Beverley Magistrates’ Court.
The court was told that ductwork under the rotary valve had been dismantled so the fine oxide could be collected in bags underneath, which was an unusual method. The necks of the bags were placed under the valve but did not fit properly.
When the worker noticed a build-up of powder on the outside of a bag, he had tried to adjust the fit and his hand caught the valve.
HSE’s investigation identified that Omya UK Ltd had totally failed to assess the risks involved with running the machine without the ductwork in place and so had also failed to make sure the dangerous parts were properly guarded.
Omya UK Ltd, Humber Plant, Melton, North Ferriby, East Yorkshire, was fined a total of £28,000 and ordered to pay £1,813 in costs after admitting breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations, and a breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Steve Kay said:
“This case underlines the need for managers to consider risks before they get employees to carry out unusual or non-routine work. If that had happened, Omya could have prevented one of their employees being maimed for life. This is the essence of risk assessment – it is not pointless form-filling bureaucracy.
“Had Omya UK Ltd given some thought to this task, it would have been obvious that a guard was needed to stop accidental contact with a nasty shear trap inside the machine.
“Their poor planning meant workers getting near a dangerous part in order to try to make a bad plan work.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken which are effective – (a) to prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”
- Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of- the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work.”