Company fined after removal of interlock device led to crush injury

A metal products manufacturer that deliberately took off an interlock on a press has appeared in court after an employee’s fingers were crushed and severed.

Rotherham Magistrates’ Court was told on 24 November 2014 that the 43-year-old worker was operating the 250 tonne machine, which presses lead pieces into different shapes, without realising the interlock had been removed while he was on holiday.

When he put his hand into the press during a routine cleaning operation, it started, allowing the ram to crush his fingers. He lost his index and middle fingers and suffered other crush injuries.

The HSE’s investigation discovered that his employer Heaps, Arnold and Heaps, which manufactures small tin, lead and solder products, had taken off the interlock so that it could operate the press while the protective guard was open.

Inspectors also found the firm had inadequate safety management systems and did not sufficiently understand guarding standards.

HSE inspector Jane Fox said there were no systems to check the safety of machines and no one told the operator the machine had been left in a dangerous condition.

Magistrates fined Heaps, Arnold and Heaps £8000 and ordered it to pay £687 costs after the firm admitted breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.