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STEEL FIRM REMOVED BAND SAW SAFETY GUARD

Leg of worker crushed in the vice of an industrial band saw

A steel distribution company has been fined £400,000 after a workman suffered serious leg injuries in February 2016.

Acenta Steel Limited was prosecuted by Rugby Borough Council following the accident at the company steel distribution centre when the leg of the workman was crushed in the vice of an industrial band saw.

The Magistrates Court heard that the workman found that the band saw warning light was flashing indicating that the saw had stopped due to a fault. He consulted a colleague and concluded that the machine sensor was blocked by steel filings.

He climbed on to the band saw to clear the blockage and whilst doing so noticed the machine vice started moving and was about to crush his leg. He screamed but by the time the emergency stop button had been pressed he suffered several fractures to his leg.

The Council investigation found that safety guards fitted to the band saw when it was installed at the factory had been removed. Acenta failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of operating the machine without the safety guards.

Acenta stated the safety guards had been removed from the band saw in order to avoid steel being caught on an overhead gantry and that sensor rarely needed cleaning.

Ignorance suggests failure in the monitoring

Acenta Steel Limited pleaded guilty to a charge of failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974.

Judge Mottram imposed a £400,000 fine on Acenta and ordered the company to pay £10,695 costs and a £120 victim surcharge. In mitigation the company told the court that the accident was “an isolated failure by an otherwise safety-conscious company.”

In a victim statement, the worker said he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and revealed how the accident had impacted on both him and his family, describing how his family’s lives had been “flipped upside down.”

At a sentencing hearing at Coventry Magistrates Court on Wednesday 18 October, District Judge Lesley Mottram said:

“This is a piece of dangerous equipment. It is an integral, primary part of the company’s business, both at the time of the accident and a considerable time before it.

It was not guarded and there are recognised standards in the industry. If the company was unaware of the problems this suggests a failure in their monitoring.”

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