A manufacturing firm have been fined for a range of serious safety failings after a worker was injured when his arm was caught between a conveyor belt and a roller in a Glasgow factory.
The worker suffered a compound fracture to his wrist and tend damage to his fingers in the incident. He had to undergo surgery to insert a metal plate into his wrist which is weakened as a result of this injury.
He was working with a colleague when they were cleaning a conveyor in the press area of the factory which is where fire retardant boards are manufactured. His colleague had gone into a cabin to start the conveyor in order to re-align the belt, when he spotted some mix on the moving conveyor that had been missed.
He attempted to scrape it off using his gloved right hand, but as his hand touched the conveyor it was pulled into an in-running nip point – the gap between the roller and underside of the belt conveyor.
An investigation held by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that while the company had assessed the risks of various tasks involving the factory it had failed to identify and control the hazard of the in-running nip point on the conveyor belt.
As a result, there were no control measures in place, such as safety guards, to prevent workers gaining access to the danger zone represented by the in – running nip point.
The court was told that the cleaning process required the workers to start the cleaning process on the computer in the cabin and after which the machine would be stopped and the operator would go into the press area to hose down the press and clean off any spilled mix.
The operator would then return to the cabin to run a ‘felt’ wash programme, while at the same time keeping an eye on the felt to ensure it was tracking correctly.
The employee and his colleague had reached the felt wash part of the process when it was noticed the belt was not running centrally. He remained in the press area while his colleague went into the cabin to start the conveyor to realign it.
They signalled each other before the machine was switched on, but when the belt was moving the unfortunate then spotted the spilled mix and attempted to clear it manually before the machine was switched off.
Following this incident the firm were fined £4,000 after pleading guilty to one charge of breaching Regulation 11(1) and (2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
They also installed a fixed guard around the nip point.
For the regulations follow this link