An engineering company has been fined for a dangerous accident at work in which a man injured his hand on a machine where a safety lock had been disabled.
The employee, who does not wish to be named, almost lost a finger while trying to clear debris from a large milling machine at Quickmach Engineering Pressings Ltd in Cinderford, Gloucestershire, on November 12, 2012.
Interlock switch not working
The experienced machinist was working on components for the aviation industry when his right hand slipped and came into contact with a rotating cutter, which damaged and almost severed his index finger.
The man has had to have two operations due to his work injury and was unable to work for a considerable length of time after the incident, Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and discovered that an interlock switch to the sliding access door of the machine had been dismantled and disabled and had been in this condition for at least two years.
If the interlock switch had been working it would not have been possible to enter the machine until the cutter had stopped rotating.
Despite the seriousness of the incident, the HSE found the machine was still being used with a disabled interlock when they visited on December 6.
Work accident ‘needless’
Quickmach Engineering was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,121 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 1(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Bird said: “This was a completely needless and entirely preventable incident that left an employee with a painful injury.
“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies where key safety devices such as interlock switches are manipulated in this way. Interlock switches are fitted to protect operators – they should not be overridden and management should not turn a blind eye to such practices.”