A Health and safety consultant working for a company based in Hampshire and his company have been prosecuted after fingers of two workers were severed inside a machine in separate incidents.
Both incidents occurred in Fareham, Hampshire inside the factory of Porvair Filtration Group Limited. Last year on 12th April, a worker operating a guillotine machine had the tips of his fingers severed by the unguarded blades of the machine. Six weeks later on May 26th, another worker positioned behind a similar machine had his fingers severed at the tips by the machine.
The HSE investigation of the incidents found out that the guillotines were not adequately guarded. One guillotine did not have guards at the front while the other guillotine’s rear guards were not in place. The investigation also found John Whiffin, who was the company’s external safety advisor, at fault because in July 2010, he had performed a risk assessment and stated in his report and both of the guillotines’ guards were in place and acceptable.
In his verdict, HSE inspector Joanna Woodcock handed out a Prohibition Notice to Porvair Filtration Group Limited. This prohibition notice required the company to install adequate guards on the machine and until those guards have been installed, the company should cease working on the three guillotine machines. Ms Woodcock also issued the firm with an Improvement Notice that instructed the firm to acquire competent safety and health advice.
Risk Assessment Process to Indentify proper Machine Guarding
Inspector Woodcock said that advice on drafting risk assessments was readily available and therefore, that process would have identified that the machines guards were inadequate. The inspector also added that had the external safety advisor of the firm, Mr Whiffin, been having adequate knowledge of the machines, he would have correctly identified the obvious risks and therefore both incidents would have been avoided.
On 26th October, Porvair Filtration Group Limited presented them at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to the two charges of breaching Reg. 11 (1) 0f PUWER 1998. The company was fined five thousand pounds and ordered to pay costs amounting to 20,358 pounds.
The company’s safety consultant, Mr. Whiffin also presented himself at the same trial and pleaded guilty of the two charges of breaching reg. 11(1) in the same legislation. Mr. Whiffin was slapped with a £700 fine and ordered to pay £4000 in costs.
Ms Woodcock added that it was of great importance that firms ensure that their machines are guarded to the best of their standards and firms should also make sure that any safety and health advice that the company needs, is offered by a firm or person with relevant expertise, experience and competence.