While machinery makes jobs much easier, it can also cause serious injuries.

Between 2014/15 – 2016/17 an annual average of 44,000 workers suffered injury due to contact with machinery. This is the fourth biggest cause of non-fatal injury suffered at work according to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

In recent news, a toilet tissue manufacturer has been fined £120,000 after a worker lost part of his finger when it touched a moving blade.

Unsafe system of work

It was an accident waiting to happen as employees had been operating machinery without a safe system in place.

The court heard the worker fed paper between two rollers. But an investigation by the HSE found threading belts which should have been used to safely feed paper were missing.

It was also possible to operate the machine with one hand and reach between the rollers with the other.

The risk of serious injury had been identified by the manufacturer but no action taken.

Fine lower than expected   

Accrol Papers Ltd pleaded guilty to breaking the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

It was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,326.

The fine was much reduced in light of Accrol’s early guilty plea and cooperation with the HSE.

The HSE initially indicated it was seeking a fine of £550,000 to £2.9 million.

Avoidable

The HSE said ‘After the incident, the company moved the controls for the machine so that operators could not reach the blade when the machine was moving. Had this been done beforehand then the injury could have been avoided.’

The HSE stressed it will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those falling below the required standards.

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