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Firm prosecuted after worker's ankle crushed

31 October 2014

A Loughborough company has been fined for safety breaches after an employee’s ankle was crushed by a woodworking machine.


The man, who has asked not to be named, was trying to flush lubricant through the grease unit on the machine at Advance Display when the incident happened on 28 January 2013.


He had one foot on the floor and the other on a base plate of the computer-controlled machine, which puts patterns in wood placed on a large moving bed. 


He asked a colleague to turn the machine on and as it had already been programmed, it immediately moved forward, crushing his foot between the base plate and the moving bed.


The man, from Whitwick, near Coalville, had to have two operations and was off work for five months. He has since returned to the company and is able to walk unaided but will never regain full movement in his ankle and foot. 


A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that for certain tasks on the machine, the operators used to have a mobile remote-controlled pendant in their hand to control the machine. However, the pendant had been broken for more than three and a half years and the company had never replaced or repaired it.


When the employee asked his colleague to switch on the machine, the latter lost sight of the former so could not see he was not clear of the machine. 


Advance Display of Falcon Business Park, Meadow Lane, Loughborough,  was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2677 after admitting breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.


Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Berian Price said: "The incident was entirely preventable and stemmed from a failure to keep the remote control pendant – a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment – in good repair and efficient working order. This, coupled with the lack of a safe system of work, led to a man needlessly suffering an extremely severe injury.


"The company was grossly negligent and failed to consider the risk to employees engaged in certain tasks on the machine.”


Every year around a dozen people are killed and 40,000 injured by machinery. Free advice for employers of managing the risks is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/ 


 
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