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July 27, 2009

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Fabricator’s arm drawn into unguarded drill

An employee at a metal forging company suffered serious crush injuries after his hand was drawn into an unguarded machine.

The incident took place on 25 June 2008 at Stoke Forgings Dudley Ltd’s premises in Dudley, West Midlands. The injured person was working as a fabricator and was operating a six-spindle drill to create two holes on a forged piece of metal.

The workman was wearing protective gloves and using only two of the six drills. While working on the metal, the glove on his left hand came in contact with one of the drill heads and his hand was pulled into the machine. He was unable to reach the emergency stop button on the machine, and he shouted to a colleague to cut the power on the device so he could free himself.

He was taken to hospital and received treatment for a broken wrist, thumb, and dislocated shoulder. He also suffered nerve and tendon damage to his forearm, which also required an extensive skin graft. Due to the severity of his injuries he was unable to return to work for more than four months.

Stoke Forgings Dudley Ltd appeared at Dudley Magistrates’ Court on 14 July and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 3 of the MHSWR 1999, for failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment, and reg. 11 of PUWER 1998, for failing to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the machine. It was fined £2500 for each offence and ordered to pay £4103 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm pointed out that it had no previous convictions and had since carried out a new risk assessment, which has led to the introduction of an updated safe system of work. It has also put guarding around the moving parts of the machine to prevent a similar accident.

HSE inspector, Sarah Palfreyman, said: “The worker should have been protected by fixed guards around the dangerous parts of the machinery and he was lucky to have escaped with the injuries he had. Drill-related injuries are still all-too frequent and companies need to ensure proper risk assessments are carried out on machinery. In this case, if a suitable assessment had been undertaken, the need for an adequate guard would have been identified and the chance of an incident occurring would have been reduced — if not eliminated.”

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