Amputation leads to Engineering firm fine
An engineering firm has been fined £20,000 for failing to guard gears on a power press for more than two years.
The HSE prosecuted Marrill after investigating an incident at its factory in Gateshead in which a maintenance worker sustained such severe injuries to his right foot that he had to have the lower part of his leg amputated.
Gateshead Magistrates’ Court was told on the 28 January 2014 that Marrill had asked the worker to investigate and repair a fault on a power press.
The engineering mechanism on top of the press included a large gear train, which consisted of a series of large cogs that moved only when the press completed a stroke.
To repair the press, the worker had to reset a solenoid valve close to the unguarded gear train. Because he had little working space, his right leg trailed over the gears into the danger area.
When the valve was reset, the press operated and the gear train turned. His right foot was pulled in as the cogs meshed.
HSE investigators found that there had been no guard on the gear train for two to three years, and though staff had to work close to the danger area, the company had not properly assessed the risks.
The court was told that guards were available and easily fixed, but Marrill did not identify the risk and repair and replace the guards.
The company admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. As well as the fine, magistrates ordered the company to pay £904 costs.
At Shires Law, partner Joanne du Plessis is working on a very similar case.” Thankfully my client’s injuries did not lead to amputation, however my client suffered severe fractures to his ankle which has resulted in permanent disability. This will have a bearing on his earning capacity and as my client is a young man careful investigations are being carried out to determine my client’s loss of earnings potentially over his working lifetime. It is often the case that guards are not fitted and this can lead to catastrophic injuries. Sadly these could be so easily prevented.”