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Safety Failings at Engineering Firm Results in Prosecution by the HSE
Posted by David Cant on March 21, 2013

An engineering firm in Southampton has been fined after one of their employees was seriously injured. The worker, Paul Thornton, was operating an aluminium casting machine at the time of the accident. The accident caused Mr Thornton to have his toe amputated and he also suffered from fractures to the rest of his toes and he also suffered a cut on his head.

At the time of the accident Mr Thornton was working on a machine that was not properly guarded. The machine creates large blades for fans from melted aluminium. Mr Thornton’s foot became trapped under a ram which then crushed his foot. He was trapped until other workers were able to come to his aide and free his foot by reversing the machine.

Investigation Discovered Safety Failings

The HSE went to the scene of the accident and investigated the firm’s health and safety. The inspectors discovered that the safety devices that were attached to the machine had been bypassed. This meant they were no longer able to stop the workers from accessing dangerous part so the machinery. If the guards were correctly in place and working the accident could have been prevented.

In addition to the safety failings relating to the machinery they also found that the company had failed to complete satisfactory risk assessments.  If they had created the risk assessments they would have been able to deal with the safeguarding issues on the machine. The firm, WH Rowe pleaded guilty to two separate breaches and were fined £7,000 and were forced to pay £4,694 in court costs.

Accident with Machinery Can Be Prevented

Machines with moving parts are known to be high risk. If a worker comes into contact with the moving parts they risk severe and even fatal injuries, which is why safeguards are required. All machines must have the guards in place and configured so the workers can be protected from the dangerous moving parts. The exposure to these moving parts has to be prevented at all time – except by those who have been trained to carry out maintenance safely using the safe systems of work in place.

Risk assessments can be used to establish what safeguards are required. By reviewing the risk assessments frequently employees can be made aware of any issues with the guards and take the necessary actions required to resolve the problem. All employees should also know to contact someone about any safety concerns or problems with the machine, rather than putting themselves at risk.

Veritas Consulting health and safety consultants will be able to help you with issues raised by machines in your workplace. There are health and safety services, such as the audit, that will spot problems and provide advice on what needs to be done so you are in compliance with the law. Call 0800 1488 677 and ask for assistance today.


Director at Veritas Consulting. The SME's favourite go-to consultant for health and safety know-how. Bucket loads of experience. Fluent in practical advice. Solutionist with a brain you can pick.

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