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As we reported earlier this week, Selig UK employee Thomas Jones' arm was fractured in several places and he sustained muscle and nerve damage while trying to fix the company's bespoke, 28 m laminating machine on 15 October 2013.
The custom-built equipment produces sealing products such as foil for coffee jars and Selig's patented Lift 'n' Peel seal for milk and juice bottles. The machine's splicing function had been causing problems since its installation in autumn 2012; it sometimes failed to cut the sealing material or to wind it onto an empty reel. Selig was aware of these issues and had told workers to use a stick or broom handle to hook the material back onto the reel.
On the day of the accident, material had failed to adhere to the new empty reel and started to pool onto the floor at a rate of around 70 m per minute. Jones attempted to cut off this excess material and reattach the tail end to the reel. His hand was caught in an in-running nip between two rollers and he was pulled in up to his shoulder.
"At the time of the accident the injured person wasn't using the stick; he was using his hand," HSE inspector Karen Morris told IOSH Magazine.
Though Selig did not sanction this method, the inspector said evidence given at Reading Crown Court demonstrated that other workers were also using their hands to resolve the problem. "What is clear is that there was an issue with the machine and that the operators started to develop their own systems for fixing it."
Morris noted that even using a stick was not ideal because it could have become caught and kicked back, causing an injury.
Before the October incident, Selig sent out a safety alert to its operators advising them how to deal with the laminater's technical problems after a near-miss when another employee was almost dragged in to the rollers.
In 2009 the HSE issued Selig with an improvement notice after a worker sustained injuries from unguarded rollers on a previous model of the laminating machine.
There was lots of guarding on the new machine, including interlocked gates and perimeter guarding, however the area where the accident occurred was not fully guarded. Selig had requested the manufacturer to add more guarding after it recognised workers could lean into the danger area. The machine's German maker Er-we-pa said this was not possible because the finished reels would strike the guard, so Selig installed pressure sensitive mats to prohibit people standing in the area immediately by the danger zone.
"The pressure mats were quite small and it wasn't difficult to reach over them, which is exactly what the injured person did," explained Morris. "They didn't achieve very much -¦ the pressure mats weren't good enough."
The HSE's investigation also found there was no suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the machine. "The lack of guarding flows out of the lack of risk assessment," said Morris.
After the accident, Selig fitted the laminating machine with a fixed guard and found the reels of material did not strike it, despite having been told otherwise by Er-we-pa. "The fixed guard is now on there and no one can reach into the danger area because it's completely blocked off," the inspector continued.
In court, Selig UK pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. It was fined £240,000 as a medium-sized organisation (turnover between £10m and £50m) whose offence was determined to be harm category 2 (medium culpability, level B harm with a high likelihood). The fine for this category can range from £100,000 to £600,000 and the fine would have been £360,000 if an early guilty plea discount had not been applied. It must also pay £9,232 in prosecution costs.
The employee’s left arm was caught between two rollers in October 2013 as he tried to fix a laminating machine. He sustained multiple fractures to his arm, as well as muscle and nerve damage. The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation found the risk assessment for the laminating machine was unsuitable and the company had not taken adequate measures to prevent access to dangerous moving parts.
The worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, was employed by Signode, a division of ITW, as an electrical maintenance engineer at its Swansea, Wales, site. On 30 May 2013 he offered to help on the polyester sheet production line after one of the five people who were supposed to be on shift called in sick. As he was rethreading plastic into the pinch roller, his glove was caught and the machine dragged in his right hand. He pulled his hand free but his index finger was so badly damaged it had to be surgically removed below the knuckle.
Northallerton Magistrates Court heard that in February 2015, Thomas of York had removed parts of a pastry lid maker’s guarding system to improve its operation. The guards were not replaced when the modification proved to be ineffective.The man broke several of his fingers when his hand was pulled into the machine.
A Lander Automotive welder’s glove became caught in the drill bit of a machine he was working on and he suffered partial amputation to the third finger on his right hand. The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation into the 17 June 2015 accident found the company failed to provide adequate training, a safe system of work, a risk assessment or method statement. It said the worker was expected to work on a variety of jobs as required by production.
The collapse happened in 2006 at a Barratt Homes development in Battersea. Crane driver Jonathan Cloke was in the cab as the jib fell 50 m on to Michael Alexa, a member of the public who was washing his car in a street beside the site. Both men died.Southwark Crown Court was told sections of the tower crane separated when 24 bolts failed due to metal fatigue.
As we reported last month, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) issued William Fry Fabrications (WFF) with an improvement notice in February 2011 after inspector James Caren found it had not thoroughly examined and inspected its lifting equipment as required by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). WFF had two cranes on site: an Elephant chain hoist with a 500 kg capacity used inside the warehouse; and a larger outdoor Cobal Goliath travelling crane which had a safe working load of 4 tonnes.