Manufacturing Firm Fined after Worker Loses Forearm

Firm Fined after Employee Loses Arm in Work Accident

A manufacturing company in Scotland has been fined nearly £50,000 for serious safety failings after an employee had to have his arm amputated following an accident at work.

The 27 year-old Edinburgh man was wrapping cotton fabric used to coat banknotes around a rotating wooden spindle when the work accident occurred in June 2012.

After colleagues heard the man screaming they yelled for the machinery to be shut down. When they ran to his aid, they found that his arm had been dragged into the machine after becoming entangled between the cotton fabric and the rotating spindle.

The fabric had been wound so tightly that it had broken his forearm in several places. When his broken arm was dragged further into the machine he was unable to reach the emergency stop button eight feet away from him.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard the man’s colleagues had cut the fabric around his arm to relieve the pressure but he had remained trapped for nearly an hour as firefighters struggled to disconnect the machine’s motor and release his arm.

When he was finally rushed to hospital he underwent several operations over a 17-day period including the amputation of his right arm below the elbow.

Despite undergoing months of physiotherapy, the employee hasn’t yet been able to return to work and has been left with permanent scarring on his back, arm, leg and right hand.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work accident investigation found the procedure to allow the wooden spindle to continue turning while the cotton wrapping process was being carried out had remained unchanged at the firm for more than 30 years.

For that entire period, the possibility of employees having their fingers, hands or clothing caught within the mechanism had never once been identified and no measures had ever been taken to change the practice as a result.

Edinbugh-based Farnbeck Ltd, was fined £46,660 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It goes without saying that if an employee is able to access a machine’s moving parts without any form of adequate guard or safety mechanism in place then there is a naturally high risk of injury.

This horrific work accident should never have happened as Farnbeck Ltd should have long ago identified the risk to their staff and adapted their machines accordingly.

It is extremely surprising and indeed incredibly fortunate that no other employee had ever suffered a similar injury in the entire 30 years this clearly dangerous working procedure had been in place.

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