Manufacturer has been sent to court over injured worker

A manufacturing firm has been seriously fined for a number of safety failings after a worker injured their hand when his hand was caught on the moving parts of a lathe.

The employee of the firm suffered severe cuts and tendon damage to his right hand in the incident.

He had to have surgery to repair the tendon damage to his hand and as a result of this he was off work for a following ten weeks, but he made a full recovery and returned to work at the company.

The employee was an experienced CNC turner when he was working on a lathe to produce a competent for use in the oil and gas industry.  The lathe was fitted with interlocking safety doors to prevent access to the moving parts, but this safety feature had been disabled and the door was open to allow him to see work progressing on the component.

A piece of metal cutting cam loose and the worker reached in with a pair of pliers in his right hand to take it away and his hand came in contact with the rotating  part of the lathe.

An investigation undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that while the firm had assessed the risks of various tasks within the factory, and interlocking safety doors were fitted to the lathe, the safety device on the lathe had been deliberately disabled by the company with a piece of tape used to override the interlock. This meant the lathe continued to operate with the door open.

The court was told that it was understood the machine was able to operate without the interlocks for around six years and one of the interlocks had also been switched off at the control panel.

The court were told that one reason for lathes being used with the doors open was to allow operators to view progress on a component. The doors were fitted with a glass panel, but over time these became scratched so viewing the work became difficult.

Following the incident the company continued to use the lathe until HSE served a Prohibition Notice on 1 February 2013 preventing its use until the safety devices were fully operational. The company then acted quickly to restore the function of the safety devices and also replaced the glass panels and installed lighting within the machines to improve visibility.

The company were fined £4,700 after pleading guilty to one charge of breaching  Regulation 11(1) and (2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Source: HSE