The man died after the abrasive wheel on the hand held grinder he was using shattered, sending shards flying; one shard went through his visor and struck him in the mouth. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident.
The HSE investigation identified that a number of previous unsafe practices and near misses had not been properly investigated. These included previous incidents where discs had come off grinders, discs shattering and workers being hit by the flying objects. It was found that none of these had been formerly mentioned in the company’s health & safety meeting minutes.
It was said that H.I. Quality Steel Castings had allowed the unsafe use of a combination of parts with grinders and there was a distinct lack of guards on the tools. Training in the use of such tools was found to be lacking; it was clear that the employees had a poor understanding of the risks from the high speeds the discs were operated at.
This has made us think about how many other companies using this type of equipment are really not aware of the potential risks. We observe in a number of businesses, how the employees take grinders for granted and don’t look after them the way they should. This is typically a lack of understanding of the risks and a case such of this should help to highlight the importance of checking the condition of the equipment and discs before use.
In court H.I. Quality Steel Castings were fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,000.