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CONVEYOR CLAIMS ARM OF SITE ENGINEER

Major contractor fined after unguarded machine leads to amputation

Morgan Est plc, of Rugby has pleaded guilty to breaching PUWER 98 Reg 11(1) and MHSWR 1999 Reg 3(1) at Huddersfield Magistrates Court.

The prosecution follows an incident which occurred at a Huddersfield Waste Water treatment works in March 2008 in which an engineer lost his right arm in a screw conveyor.

Blockage clearing took place with guarded removed

The court heard that the arm of an engineer was amputated when it came into contact with the rotating screw conveyor on newly installed equipment at the Neiley Waste Water Treatment, Works.

Morgan Est plc was was engaged by Yorkshire Water as principal contractor to carry out refurbishment of the waste water treatment works. A new sludge treatment plant had been installed and was in the process of being commissioned.

HSE investigators found that the fixed guard on a screw conveyor was removed to allow clearance of a sludge blockage in the conveyor. Blockages had occurred before although on previous occasions the machine had been isolated prior to any work being carried out.

Risk assessment had not considered blockage cleaning

The company accepted that it (a) failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the clearing of blockages during commissioning and that (b) access to the rotating screw arose because the plant had not been isolated prior to removal of the guard.

HSE Inspector Dave Stewart said: “Morgan Est Limited Plc should have ensured the commissioning of the new equipment was thoroughly risk assessed. Blockages had occurred previously on this piece of plant and a clear and concise method for dealing with the blockages should have been established and communicated to workers on the site.

“Commissioning of plant can often present extreme hazards hence the need for thorough planning and control of such work by employers.”

The company was fined £6k and ordered to pay costs of over £2k.

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