A Romsey brick-making firm has been prosecuted after one of its employees suffered crush injuries to his leg in a poorly-guarded machine.
Mr Nikoloz Demetrashvili, 42, was in hospital for three weeks with a multiple fracture of his right leg after the incident at Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company Ltd on 12 October last year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that flawed protective measures meant the worker was able to access dangerous parts of a brick-making machine while it was still ‘live’.
Southampton Magistrates heard today (22 August) that Mr Demetrashvili, from Southampton, had been trying to free a blockage caused when two trays dropped on a brick mould rather than one.
In an attempt to clear it, he followed work instructions and disabled pressure sensitive mats designed to prevent access to the machine as he needed power running to free the trapped tray. Although the power was on, the machine was not in production mode but sensors were still active.
Mr Demetrashvili then climbed on the machine to reach the tray, as he had done on previous occasions to free blockages. As he leant over the turntable and pulled the tray, a sensor activated and the turntable rotated, crushing his leg and trapping him in the machine.
After the incident, HSE served an Improvement Notice on Michelmersh Brick and Tile Co Ltd requiring further safeguarding of the machine. It complied by removing a switch that allowed the pressure mat to be over-ridden, meaning it is no longer possible for operators to access the machinery whilst there is power running to it.
Michelmersh Brick and Tile Company Ltd of Hillview Road, Michelmersh, Romsey, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay £4,945 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Daniel Hilbourne said:
“This case highlights the importance of ensuring proper guarding of dangerous machinery at all times. It is vital for employers to ensure that staff cannot get dangerously close to machinery that is either moving or is likely to move with people in the immediate area.
“Had the pressure mat been configured properly, it would have prevented the machine from operating with anyone near it. Sadly, Mr Demetrashvili has been left with very serious and life-changing injuries because of safety failures that could easily have been avoided.
“This prosecution is a reminder to firms of the need to carefully consider the risks of machinery and to identify and implement adequate controls to protect their employees.”
Lighthouse Comments: Whilst being a H&S Safety Professional you gain the ability to identify the thing that would have prevented the occurrence in the first place. If you have H&S knowledge or you want to guess what could have been done to prevent this stop have a think to guess then carry on reading.
This case could have been prevented if the employer had introduced a simple Permit to Work System for the work task. The PTW should highlight whether there was a need to enter the machine and if there was that the risks were suitably controlled. The fact the machine had not been maintained correctly was an underlying issue to the cause, if using a PTW, the permit should/could highlight the maintenance checks on the machine prior to entry.
This is a classic case which has happened before but we still have failed to improve. A man has been left with serious injuries that is the biggest shame.