Volunteer severed arm in faulty machine
Jun 27, 2011
A metal fabrications company has admitted failing to carry out regular inspections on a faulty hydraulic press brake which severed a worker’s arm.
The injured person had offered to help out on a Saturday at the company’s factory. He was not employed by the company but had agreed to work at the factory for the day as he was a friend of the company’s managing director.
He volunteered to operate an hydraulic press brake which was being used to turn sheet metal into U-shaped bends. He had no previous experience of using the machine and was only given ten minutes training. As he fed the metal into the press he reached inside to reposition the part, and his left hand was severed by the moving parts of the machine. Surgeons were able to re-attach his hand but he now has limited movement in it and has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.
The HSE’s investigation found that the press was fitted with an electronic motion guard to stop the machine moving if part of a person entered the danger zone. However, when the injured person reached into the machine, it had failed to operate. The investigation also found that the company had failed in its duty to carry out regular inspections on the machine since it took over the business in 2007.
The HSE subsequently issued a Prohibition Notice requiring the machine to be taken out of service until it had been inspected and the faulty sensor repaired.
The dangers of working with press brakes are well known in the industry and there have been many instances of workers being seriously injured. That is why these machines are fitted with guards to prevent access to the danger zone. In this case the company’s failure to ensure these guards were effective had tragic consequences. Contact with moving machinery is one of the main causes of fatal injuries to workers and the third highest cause of major injuries. This should serve as a reminder to employers of the importance of safeguarding their employees by providing adequate guarding, regular inspections and appropriate training of staff.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 11(1) of PUWER 1998. It was fined £12,000 and £2000 in costs.
Wilby Risk Management can assist with risk assessments and provide advice on guarding and training requirements. Contact us now for more information on how we can help you. Alternatively, you can ring us on 01422 358525.