It makes you sit up and take notice when such a large household name falls short of what is expected and the outcome is a worker is lucky not to lose his life.
The HSE has published details that Jaguar Land Rover Ltd has been fined for safety breaches after an employee suffered life-threatening crush injuries when he was dragged into inadequately guarded machinery.
The 57-year-old maintenance electrician from Northfield, Birmingham, punctured both lungs and broke ten ribs, his breastbone, two bones in his spine and two in his right hand. He had blood clots on his heart and kidneys and was in an induced coma in intensive care for 12 days. He was in hospital for a further seven days but was back at work within 17 weeks.
The incident happened in the paint shop at the company’s Lode Lane site in Solihull and Birmingham Crown Court was told a HSE investigation found that following the latest in a series of frequent production line stoppages the employee approached a gap in the perimeter guarding that surrounded the vehicle body lifting equipment so he could witness the troublesome process in operation.
As he watched he was hit by an empty vehicle body carrier on a circulatory chain conveyor that was travelling through the gap. He was knocked to the ground and forcibly dragged through the gap into a restricted processing area where he was severely crushed.
The gap remained unguarded following the incident until HSE enforcement required that further protective measures be provided. The area of conveyor was enclosed with fixed perimeter guards by Jaguar Land Rover and a robust key exchange access system introduced.
Jaguar Land Rover Ltd was fined £40,000 with £13,474 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations
Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Carr said Jaguar Land Rover “fell far short of a safe and reasonable standard”, adding “This was an entirely reasonable, foreseeable situation. The breach was an ongoing failure and an accident waiting to happen.”
The HSE inspector on the case confirmed this was an entirely preventable accident; had the risk been properly assessed the incident could have been designed out.
It appears that the company had made sure the gap was minimally sized to allow empty carriers into the restricted area, however it also allowed access to dangerous moving parts within the production process while in itself creating a crush hazard with the moving conveyor.
It was confirmed that Jaguar Land Rover has extensive safety systems in place and the Lode Lane plant had other facilities with similar processes that are guarded much more effectively.
The clear message is that the business as should your business have ensured the same level of protection exists across all of its operations. Because it failed to do so the result was a man suffered horrific injuries.
Unfortunately failure in providing effective guarding continues to be a problem for many UK businesses as this case shows even in the biggest businesses. We know the PUWER regulations are not the easiest to interpret but they are there for a very good reason; make it a New Year resolution to look at your risk assessments.