A machine operator was speared by two steel bars when he went inside an inadequately guarded machine to make alterations to the production line.
Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court heard that the incident took place at Allevard Springs Ltd’s factory in Clydach Vale on 28 January 2011. Steven Rowe, 49, was operating a bar drawing-line machine, which is used to prepare steel bars for processing into springs that are used in the automotive industry.
Mr Rowe noticed that when the bars were exiting the machine they were falling short of hitting a sensor, which meant they were not properly aligned when they travelled on to a conveyor. This could have resulted in the bars jamming, so Mr Rowe entered the machine enclosure, via a sliding door, to adjust an air-pressure regulator on the pinch rollers to correct the alignment of the bars.
When he was inside the machine, he leant over the path of the moving bars, which measured 10.5mm in diameter, to access the regulator. As he moved his right arm, it slipped into a gap and two of the bars went through his arm. He then used his free hand to deflect a number of other bars until a colleague managed to shut down the machine.
The emergency services had to cut him free and he was then taken to hospital. He suffered a broken right arm and needed to have multiple skin-graft operations, as well as 14 stitches in his left arm. He is still off work owing to his injuries and is still receiving ongoing outpatient treatment.
The HSE’s investigation found that the company had carried out a full risk assessment, which identified the risk that workers could access moving parts of the machine. The company failed, however, to take any steps to address the danger.
HSE inspector Hugh Emment said: “Serious incidents involving machinery which is not, or inadequately, guarded, are unfortunately, still a common event.
“Employers should ensure that machinery is suitably and sufficiently assessed. This includes taking into account relevant guidance and standards, so that all necessary guarding is in place and maintained in a good condition.”€
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