A Staffordshire company has been fined after an employee broke his arm in an unprotected machine. The man had been attempting to repair the computer-controlled machine at Key Precision Ltd on 17 January 2014 when it started working and his arm was caught by the machine’s internal arms.
An investigation by the HSE found the interlocked door had been defeated by use of a spare key which was kept on top of the machine. The machine was therefore tricked into thinking it was safe to operate.
The investigation also revealed Key Precision Ltd had failed to properly assess the risks associated with the machine, had given inadequate safety training to employees and failed to have a robust system in place to monitor employees.
This unfortunately could be aimed at many businesses across the UK who don’t take the time to consider the very real risks in their operations. This case shows it can be too easy to defeat safety systems unless health & safety is considered to be part of the way that things are done in a business. Why would you allow workers access to a key to override an important control and how would management not know about this?
The failures here meant the employee was off work for several months and now works for another firm.
Key Precision Ltd, of Cannock, was fined £8,000 with £1,180.38 costs by Stafford Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The HSE inspector prosecuting the case commented that this incident was borne out of a series of failings from start to finish.
It appears that the company was visited by HSE in 2010 for a routine inspection and was given advice on the safe use of its machines. The business clearly ignored the advice given.
Key Precision Ltd did not have safe systems of work or robust monitoring procedures to ensure employees were working safely. These failures allowed the unsafe practices to develop that showed that health & safety was not a primary consideration for the business.
Had the business taken the HSE advice then this case could have been easily avoided; what it clearly demonstrates is the importance of having access to competent advice and someone to keep health & safety high on the business agenda.