A Bolton pallet manufacturer has been convicted for health and safety offences after a factory worker’s fingers were cut off by a rotating saw.
The worker had been holding a large piece of wood while his colleague cut through it, when his hand caught on the rotating blade. The man lost three fingers on his left hand, down to the second knuckle.
The HSE investigation found there was no guard on the saw and the worker had not received training on how to use the saw. The HSE immediately issued two Prohibition Notices preventing that saw and another similar saw from being used until guards had been put in place.
We have to ask why it is that such simple controls are so often overlooked by businesses? Neither guarding nor training on this type of machine would have been expensive to implement. From experience it seems that a basic lack of understanding of the principles of risk assessment; means that the risks are not recognised and therefore not controlled.
Unfortunately it is a fact that on average, 31 workers in the manufacturing industry are killed while at work every year, and there are more than 4,500 major injuries. If only less people and less businesses would stop thinking that it only happens to others.
The company, Frank Hill Ltd, which formerly traded as IPC Services, was found guilty of two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. However, as the company had gone into liquidation on 28 July 2011 it was fined £2 with no costs during a sentencing hearing at Manchester Crown Court on 30 April 2012.
This really does not seem to send out a message that is in keeping with what the HSE are saying; as after the case the HSE confirmed they will continue to prosecute firms that put the safety of their staff at risk.
In many cases the courts are issuing proportionate levels of fines that should in future deter businesses from thinking it is cheaper to face the penalty rather than make the changes before the event. That said, it is still frustrating to see some companies such as this appear to walk away without paying for such basic levels of failure to manage the health & safety of their employees.