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CONCRETE PRODUCTS WORKER ARM SEVERED IN AUGER

Vital maintenance safety procedures not communicated to key worker

London Concrete Ltd of Leicestershire has been fined after the arm of a workman was “torn off” by a dry materials feed auger during maintenance work. A manager accidentally turned on power to the auger while it was being repaired at a factory in Gerrards Cross, Bucks.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard that the 50-year-old workman was working on the machine on 28 May 2008 carrying out an initial repair with the electrical power to the auger correctly isolated but without completing the permits for the work required by company policy.

The repair failed and a further attempt was made the following day when both he and his supervisor failed to check that the power had again been isolated. When the supervisor accidentally activated the machine the auger severed the man’s arm from above the elbow.

The experienced fitter had worked in the industry for 23 years before joining London Concrete Ltd 10 months before the incident.

Permits to work “frequently not completed”

HSE investigators found that the company trained its workforce on safety and could isolate power during repairs bur failed to provide the injured man with initial training or any additional information about the equipment he was working on or company procedures. In addition, inadequate supervision meant that company permits to work were frequently not completed.

London Concrete Ltd, of Leicestershire pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,397.

HSE’s inspector, Nigel Fitzhugh said:

“This was a terrible, preventable incident which resulted in a man having his left arm torn off above the elbow, an agonising injury which has had a profound and devastating effect on him.

There was clearly a foreseeable risk of this sort of incident happening. London Concrete Ltd had in place measures to mitigate this kind of incident, but crucially failed to provide training to the injured man and failed to ensure that its own isolation procedures were followed.

Permits to work are designed to prevent just the sort of misunderstanding that existed between the manager and the fitter. Incidents such as this show how important it is that safety training and procedures should exist in practice, not just on paper.”

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