Dangerous machinery accident/no protective guard = £300k fine!

Published: 1 Sep 2017

We seem to be hearing about accidents involving dangerous machinery and lack of protective guards too frequently, often with catastrophic and life changing results. We look at 3 separate accidents which could easily have been avoided if the correct measures had been put in place.

In recent prosecution news, a Devon based textile company, Heathcoat Fabrics Limited has been issued a significant fine after a 21 year old employee suffered a life changing hand injury.

On 23 August 2014, Anthony Seward was preparing a piece of machinery for the next shift, when his hand was drawn into the rotating rollers. He suffered severe crush injuries to his left hand resulting in partial amputation of four fingers.

The HSE investigation uncovered that the original protective guard for this piece of machinery had broken, an emergency stop wire had been put in place. This machine was allowed to operate in an unsafe manner with the protective guard only replaced the day after the accident.

The second accident involves SPL International Ltd, a home brewing kit manufacturer who had been fined after an employee’s right hand was severed while cleaning a blending machine. The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an incident on 21 October 2014.

On the day of the incident the employee was asked by his supervisor to clean the ‘Ritchie blender’, a Kek Gardner horizontal cantilever mixer, a job which he had done before. While attempting to dry the rim of the machine, the employees hand made contact with the blade whilst the machine was still running. Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard that the worker’s injuries led to his right hand below the thumb and fingers being severed. He has been unable to return to work since.

The company was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £7,004.

The final incident in April 2015 resulted in the unnecessary death of Jeffery Warner, when he was fatally crushed after a steel beam protruding from a machine pushed a second beam and crushed him against a door. His employer, Thomas Panels & Profiles Limited, Leominster was fined £285,000 with costs of £29,961.48. The machine was found to be operating for 2 years without the suitable safeguards to prevent risk of crushing injuries.

Ways to minimise exposure to prosecution include:

  1. Ensure that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and safe system of work is put in place for the handling and cleaning of dangerous machinery.
  2. Ensure that the required protective guards are made available and their use enforced.
  3. All relevant members of the team must receive the necessary training in the risk assessment/safe system of work.
  4. Regular internal health and safety audits need to be conducted with immediate corrective action taken for any defects noted.


Contact us today to find out how we can help you to ensure that legal compliance is met.