A company in the north-east of England has been hit with a £6,000 fine after a worker was seriously injured in an accident involving a glue rolling machine.
An employee of Elite Composite Products was working at its premises in Trimdon Grange, County Durham in September 2012 when he attempted to clean the rollers of the device.
However, the 59-year-old tried to access the rollers by lifting a hinged guard. His hand was subsequently drawn into the machine and was seriously injured as a result.
Moving machine parts stripped away some of the skin on the appendage, while he also suffered muscle damage in his thumb and injured the carpal tunnel in his wrist. The employee was hospitalised for four days and spent the next five months undergoing further treatment and physiotherapy.
As a result, he was not able to go back to work until seven months after the accident occurred, initially on an incremental basis.
Work Accident Investigation
A work accident investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that part of the glue rolling machine that was meant to stop the rollers turning whenever the guard was raised had been broken at the time of the accident. As a result, the rollers continued moving when the employee was using the device and his hand was drawn in.
Elite Composite Products was criticised by the HSE for failing to carry out regular safety and maintenance checks, as this would have led to the broken safety device being identified early on.
A prosecution was subsequently brought against the company and was heard at Peterlee Magistrates' Court.
The firm pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was subsequently ordered to pay a £6,000 fine. The Court also told it to pay £3,188.50 in costs.
Accident 'Was Preventable'
Speaking after the Court ruling, Cain Mitchell, an inspector at the HSE, said the accident could have "been easily prevented" by Elite Composite Products.
He stated that if the company had put procedures in place to identify defects in its machinery and safety systems, then the worker would not have been hurt. "Instead, the firm's failures mean a worker has suffered severe, life-changing injuries," Mr Mitchell commented.
4,500 Serious Work Accidents in 5 Years
According to the latest figures from the HSE, approximately 2.8 million people currently work in the manufacturing industry in the UK.
However, statistics from the body also show that there is a relatively high accident rate in manufacturing when compared with other sectors. For instance, the HSE said that over the last five years, an average of more than 4,500 major injuries sustained in the workplace were reported.
Meanwhile, an average of 31 employees at manufacturing companies have suffered fatal accidents at work.
The HSE added that during the last five years, there have been approximately 19,500 reported injuries that meant employees could not work for at least three days.