The following interesting health and safety case shows how even the biggest employers and well-respected companies that we all use still have difficulty in checking, maintaining and making their equipment safe. This accident could have been far worse and could have resulted in the worker not only losing their arm but the effect this could have had on their mental health would have been very serious.
Sentenced for Breaching Health and Safety Regulations
Nestlé UK Ltd was sentenced for breaching health and safety regulations after an employee was dragged into a machine on the assembly line at their site in Halifax.
Bradford Crown Court heard how while observing the operation of the After Eight production machine, the technical operator placed his right hand close to a gap within the machine housing. An abrasive cloth held in his right was dragged into the machine taking his arm with it.
The employee was unable to reach any of the emergency stop buttons located round the machine from the position during which he was trapped. He had to be released from the machine by paramedics. He suffered a double open fracture to his arm, which required surgery.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company did not prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine, namely an ‘in-running nip’. There was a gap large enough to permit access at a belt conveyor entry on the After Eight line.
Nestle UK Ltd pleaded guilty to Reg 11 of the PUWER – Provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998. They were fined £640,000 and ordered to pay £26,234 in costs (Source Health & Safety Executive).
Health and Safety Learning Points
- This task should have been risk assessed and the opportunity for the worker to place their hand into the working machine picked up and have control measures put in place.
- All staff working on this task should have been trained and had either a SSOW -Safe System of Work or a RAM – Risk Assessment method Statement to refer to so it was undertaken in the correct controlled manner.
- Ultimately this could have led to a fatal accident and the company was lucky that it did not.
- Manufacturers guidelines should always be referred to.
- Check the workers mental health after the accident and consider their duties when they come back to work.
Further HSE Support and Training
HR Solutions’ Health, Safety and Environment division, called HSE Solutions, provides you with access to a Competent Person to help de-risk your working environment from accidents. To find out more about how our HSE Solutions service can help your business, visit www.hrsolutions-uk.com/health-and-safety or call us on 0844 324 5840.
For information on our Health and Safety training courses visit www.hrsolutions-uk.com/training-courses.