A manufacturing company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker suffered severe crush injuries while fault finding on a mesh welding machine.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how on January 26, 2016, an employee at Siddall and Hilton Products Ltd was injured while assisting a colleague on the GRS 144 welding machine at the company’s Brighouse premises.
To identify a faulty wire on the machine, the worker opened the interlocked gate which stopped the machine and climbed on top of the PV (the part of the machine that creates the mesh from the welded materials).
To release the wire the weld head needed to be lifted.
To do so, his colleague exited and restarted the machine.
As the machine was in automatic rather than manual mode, the PV immediately continued travelling towards the weld head, trapping the worker’s lower left leg. He suffered double compound fractures of his tibia and fibula. He was taken immediately to hospital where he had surgery and has since required further surgery to fuse his ankle in November 2018.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to implement robust isolation procedures as part of a safe system of work for entry into and out of the machine’s hazard zones.
Siddall and Hilton Products Ltd of Foundry Street, Brighouse, West Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The company has been fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £4831.45 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Jackie Ferguson commented: “Maintenance and breakdowns are often the most hazardous and poorly controlled area of work.
“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
A statement from the company said: "Siddall & Hilton Products Ltd has been a responsible employer for over 120 years, engaged in a variety of hazardous manufacturing processes.
"We are committed to ensuring that we operate to the highest standards of safety in our industry.
"The fact that the company has fallen short of its responsibilities under health and safety regulations in this instance is a matter of sincere and deep regret.
"Following the incident the company has undertaken a thorough review of its processes and procedures and made a number of positive changes.
"Ensuring the safety of our employees is paramount and a continuous cycle of assessment and improvement has been embedded in the culture of the business."