The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Health And Safety Risk Review And Assessment

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Last Friday, chemical manufacturing company Warwick International Group Ltd pled guilty to two charges under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 before magistrates in Mold, North Flintshire, for failing to protect their workers' health and safety.

The charges relate to two separate incidents where employees' hands became trapped in the same machine, causing serious injury.

The company was fined £12,000 for the first offence, £14,000 for the second offence and ordered to pay costs of £1,947.20.

In the first incident, on 20 December 2007, employee Clwyd Roberts' gloved hand was trapped in the rollers of a bagging machine, causing severe friction burns, which later required skin grafts.

The company carried out a risk review and assessment of the machine after the incident, which identified potential hazards, but failed to implement adequate remedial action to prevent the risk.  For example, the risk assessment failed to identify guarding as a requirement.

Less than a month later, on 13 January 2008, another employee, Allan Breeze, also got his hand trapped in the machine rollers and suffered friction burns and tendon damage to his hand and multiple breaks to his ring finger.

After the verdict was announced, Health and Safety officer Jo-Anne Michael said:

"The company clearly failed to learn from the first incident and it took a second similar incident before the necessary guarding was put in place on this machine.  The risk review and assessment was clearly inadequate - both incidents could have been avoided.

"Employers operating machinery must always ensure that risks are fully assessed and that potentially dangerous moving parts are suitably guarded.

"Both employees needed substantial time off work and, while their injuries were significant, they could have been even worse.

"The company has now put much tighter procedures into place for this machine to protect workers' health and safety."

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