£13K Fine for Company after Worker Loses Two Fingers in Machine

A company from Manchester has been prosecuted after a worker was injured when trying to clear a blockage from a baler at the company’s premises. The worker was trying to move some blocked plastic from the hopper of the machine. The baler was still switched on, and after taking the guard off the worker reached into the machine. The ram moved and trapped his hand, crushing it in the process. As a result of this, two of his fingers were amputated. Wrapp Recycling Ltd was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of just over £5,951.

Read on to find out more about this prosecution, and to read some of our top tips on making sure that blockages are cleared safely when workers are operating your machinery.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident, and found that blockages happened frequently on the machine, and that the company had put a removable guard in place for this reason. It was established that blockages were often cleared by hand with the machine running, and that workers had not been told of the dangers of clearing items in the hopper when the power was on.

5 tips to help ensure blockages within machinery are cleared safely:

  1. Do a risk assessment which considers when blockages could occur on your machines, and the hazards associated with this. Think about what could go wrong, for example if workers were to try to access dangerous parts of the machine. Consider how and when they could become trapped, crushed or otherwise hurt.
  2. Determine the right controls to be used to remove or greatly reduce the risk of harm occurring. Think about the correct type of guard to use, which can be fixed securely in position.
  3. Develop a safe system of work for workers to follow which specifies the steps for workers to take, and in what order. Make sure workers clearly understand that the machine is to be isolated before attempting to clear a blockage, and that they are aware of any stored power that could cause machine parts to move which needs to be dissipated first.
  4. Try to work out why blockages occur in the first place, and aim to resolve the issue. Make sure workers use push sticks or similar for any that remain, to avoid putting their hands near dangerous moving parts.
  5. Give training to workers on the safe clearing of blockages, and ensure that all blockage clearing is supervised and that checks are made to verify that any guards removed have been replaced.

If the correct procedures had been in place the above accident could easily have been prevented. Take the time today to check that your workers know how to safely clear blockages that occur with your machines, and that they have a safe system of work to follow.