14th May 2014
A Leicestershire manufacturing firm has been fined after an employee's arm was torn off by a giant industrial 'corkscrew' as he was carrying out repairs, in events that could lead to a work compensation claim.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted London Concrete Ltd after a manager accidentally turned on an auger - a large corkscrew-like machine which moves dry materials from one level to another - while it was being repaired at a factory in Wapseys Wood, Oxford Road, Gerrards Cross.
Aylesbury Crown Court heard that a 50 year-old employee, who does not wish to be named, was working on the machine on 28th and 29th May 2008, when the accident at work took place.
He attempted an initial repair on 28 May with the electrical power to the auger incorrectly isolated and without completing the permits for the work required by company policy. The repair failed. He attempted another repair the following day and both he and his supervisor failed to check that the power had again been isolated, in breach of company procedures.
When the supervisor accidentally activated the machine, it tore the man's arm off above the elbow.
The experienced fitter had worked in the industry for 23 years before joining London Concrete Ltd 10 months before the incident.
The HSE investigation found that although London Concrete trained its workforce on safety and could isolate power to machines and prevent them from being used during repairs, it failed to provide the injured man with initial training or any additional information about the equipment he was working on or company procedures. Inspectors also discovered that the plant manager did not supervise work correctly, which meant company permits to work were frequently not completed.
HSE's inspector, Nigel Fitzhugh said:
"This was a terrible, preventable incident which resulted in a man having his left arm torn off above the elbow, an agonising injury which has had a profound and devastating effect on him.
"London Concrete Ltd had in place measures to mitigate this kind of incident, but crucially failed to provide training to the injured man and failed to ensure that its own isolation procedures were followed.
"Permits to work are designed to prevent just the sort of misunderstanding that existed between the manager and the fitter.
"Incidents such as this show how important it is that safety training and procedures should exist in practice, not just on paper."