An engineering company has been fined £62,334 after one of its employees suffered scalping injuries when her hair became entangled in a pillar drill (pictured above), despite the company’s own risk assessment identifying that a guard should be fitted.
Coventry Magistrates’ Court was told that on 10 September 2019, an employee at P&D Engineering suffered life-changing injuries when her scalp and part of her ear were torn off after her ponytail became wrapped around a rotating drill.
The employee subsequently underwent surgery nine times involving skin grafts to re-construct her scalp, and her ear was also amputated.
'This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices'
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the rotating elements of the drill were not guarded in accordance with conventional industry practice. The HSE also discovered that while P&D Engineering’s own risk assessment for using the drill recommended that a guard be installed, evidence suggested the drill had been used without one for several years.
P&D Engineering pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £62,334 and ordered to pay costs of £1,459.90.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Charlotte Cunniffe said: 'This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.
'Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.'
RIDDOR defines scalping as: 'The traumatic separation or peeling of the skin from the head due to an accident, for example hair becoming entangled in machinery. Lacerations, where the skin is not separated from the head, are not included, nor are surgical procedures where skin removal is deliberate.'
Any degree of scalping that requires hospital treatment is a specified injury that requires reporting under RIDDOR regulations.
This incident follows the case of Karolina Lubieniecka, who lost her scalp, ears and one of her thumbs in June 2016 when she was dragged into a machine at Cheshire Mouldings and Woodturnings' (CMW) factory in St Helens, Merseyside. In that case, CMW was fined £466,666.