Modified equipment not assessed for the impact of change on safety
Tarmac Building Products Ltd has been fined after an employee severed three fingers in an inadequately guarded dust extraction machine.
Derby Crown Court heard (25 September) that the workman was emptying waste dust from the machine’s hopper into a bag at their plant in Swadlincote on 27 September 2012.
He was lifting the sides of the bags when he lost his balance and fell forward causing part of his hand to enter the hopper where three fingers were severed by a rotary valve severing three. He was off work for some nine months.
HSE investigators found the dust extraction unit originally had a fully-enclosed recycling system where waste dust was blown back into a silo to be reused. In 2012 a section from beneath the hopper was removed to try to solve a contamination problem, which enabled access to the rotary valve.
Appropriate guarding was required
Tarmac Building Products Ltd, of Millfields Road, Ettingshall, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £4,999 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Walker said:
“This incident could easily have been avoided had an appropriate guard been fitted when the hopper was modified.
When modifying machinery and equipment it is important to make a suitable assessment of any increased risk that changes may cause. Tarmac Building Products failed to do that and a man was left with a permanent impairment.”