The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £11,611 in costs following an incident where a worker was seriously hurt on a brick packaging line. The man was attempting to rectify a fault when he was crushed by a pallet lifter.
The man had entered a safety zone around the line which was protected by a perimeter fence with interlocked gates; he then climbed onto the static conveyor belt to fix the fault. However the line was restarted and he was hit by the pallet lifter. He received serious injuries and was off of work for six weeks.
The HSE investigation found that an interlock on one of the gates which should have isolated the line had been previously disconnected to allow for other servicing to take place. The investigation also found serious failures in the company systems – as there was no permit to work system and the risk assessment was not suitable and sufficient.
The company, Wienerberger Ltd, pleaded guilty to the charges and has since looked to improve its health & safety management controls.
Unfortunately we see all too often that such simple failures in control are not an isolated incident; companies all too often seem to think that if they put a guarding system in place then that’s ‘job done’. Clearly, this case proves otherwise and highlights the need to consider what happens when things don`t go as planned or expected. Where was the control of the ‘what ifs’? Again, this shows that if we don`t give proper consideration to the safety of large pieces of work equipment then the impact of safety can be huge.