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CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS MAKER MACHINERY FAILURE

Horrific hand injury follows rotary valve machinery guarding inadequacies

Saint-Gobain Weber Limited, of Flitwick, Bedfordshire, has been fined £16k after a finger and thumb of a workman were severed as he tried to unblock machinery.

The firm, which manufactures materials for the construction industry, admitted breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Magistrates also ordered the compsany to pay £3,560 in prosecution costs.

The Bedfordshire plant was manufacturing façade tiling and materials for the construction industry when a waste extraction system became blocked.

Supervisor Simon Partridge attempted to clear the blockage with his left hand and it became entangled in the rotary valve. His finger and thumb were severed by the machine and could not be saved, despite extensive surgery.

Guards should not be easily bypassed

HSE investigation found the machine guards could be removed by members of staff using tools provided by the company. The system for isolating the power from machinery wass “below expected standards”.

HSE Inspector Graham Tompkins said:

“Unfortunately this kind of horrific injury is all too common. This case would not have happened if a suitable system of work had been used, including power isolation arrangements and safety guards that were not so easily bypassed.

Employers have a legal obligation to protect the safety of their workers and help prevent serious injuries like this occurring. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when companies fail in this basic duty.”

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