This is a fact that one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of personal protective equipment has found out the hard way. JSP Ltd has been prosecuted and fined after a worker’s hand was crushed when it became trapped in an unsafe machine at their factory in Oxfordshire.
The 47-year-old employee had just started her shift at the JSP Ltd factory in Minster Lovell. She was stirring the paint for a printer when the machine suddenly moved, striking her hand and trapping it. The worker suffered a broken knuckle and serious nerve damage and was unable to work for several months. The nerve damage has resulted in a loss of dexterity in her right hand.
The HSE investigated and prosecuted JSP Ltd for safety failings after finding a micro switch on the interlocking sliding door guard on the printing machine had failed. It appears that the management just assumed that as a micro switch was in place this would provide protection when the guarding was opened. However the HSE investigation showed that the safety devices on the machine had not been checked in the eight years it had been in use.
Clearly this was a major oversight for the business as controls of this type are often tampered with or break and that is why PUWER requires regular inspection and maintenance to be undertaken.
The HSE investigation found on examination that the machine unsafe.
JSP Ltd was fined a total of £4,000 with £1,064 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to protect employees from dangerous moving parts of machinery.
Frustratingly this was clearly a preventable incident as JSP Ltd had carried out a risk assessment in 2007 and this identified that maintenance checks were not being carried out on the printing machine. The problem was management failed to follow this through by taking action to manage that risk and implement a suitable maintenance system.
As a result, the micro switches on the guards were not being checked at regular intervals and when the interlocked sliding door guard was opened, the micro switch failed to cut the power to the dangerous moving parts. This allowed the operator to access an unsafe area in the machine and one of their employees unfortunately paid the price.
We regularly discuss with employers on the importance of acting on the findings of their own risk assessments; not knowing makes a business culpable but knowing and not taking action just increases this.
As the HSE commented after this case businesses need to avoid complacency and can’t afford to assume that machines, which have been running for some time, are going to remain safe without regular checks of safety-critical devices.