A company which makes concrete wall blocks has been prosecuted after one of its workers suffered a serious hand injury.
The worker was making some of the company’s supplies when his hand became trapped in the machine he was operating. His hand was crushed and his thumb and three fingers were broken, requiring surgery. Thakeham Tiles Ltd was fined £26,667.
The accident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Inspectors established that the machine had not been guarded for several years, and that the company had failed in its duty to ensure that the machine had been fitted with suitable guards.
Here are our 6 tips to help ensure your machines are safe to use:
- Do a risk assessment to establish what the hazards are in relation to your machinery. Identify where any dangerous moving parts are, such as blades, clamps and rollers. Work out how a person could be harmed, such as by body parts being pulled into the machine, crushed or perhaps amputated.
- Implement the correct controls to manage the risk. Use the correct guards, and ensure that they prevent access to the identified dangerous parts of the machine. Check that the guards work properly, that they are in place before using the machine, and that they are not faulty or compromised in any way.
- Ensure that your machines are regularly inspected, and that the inspections are carried out by competent persons who have experience and knowledge of the machine, its operations and its associated hazards.
- Check that maintenance regimes are adhered to, and that maintenance activities are recorded.
- Make sure any faults with machines and their control measures (such as guarding) are repaired as soon as possible, and that if worker safety is affected then the machine is taken out of use until repaired.
- Verify that all safety features present on machinery – such as emergency stop buttons, trip wires and other similar items – are in good repair and that they work properly. Make sure they are positioned correctly so as to do their job – it is no good having an emergency stop button placed out of reach of the machine operator when he or she may need it.
In this case, the inspector commented after the hearing that the accident could have been prevented if the right guarding had been in place on the machine, and the company had taken steps to check the safety of the machine. Make sure you take the time to carry out these actions in your workplace.