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October 29, 2012

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Factory and safety consultant fined for machine-guarding failures

A Hampshire company and its safety consultant have been prosecuted after two workers severed fingers inside a machine in two separate incidents.

Both incidents took place at Porvair Filtration Group Ltd’s factory in Fareham, Hampshire. On 12 April last year, a worker was operating a guillotine machine when the unguarded blades severed the ends of his fingers. Six weeks later on 26 May, another worker was positioned at the rear of a similar machine when the tips of his fingers were severed.

The HSE investigated the incidents and found one of the guillotines was not adequately guarded at the front, and the other machine didn’t have guards at the rear.

The investigation also discovered that Porvair’s external safety advisor, John Whiffin, had produced risk assessments in July 2010, which stated the machines’ guards were present and acceptable.

HSE inspector Joanna Woodcock served Porvair Filtration Group with a Prohibition Notice, which required the firm to stop working on three guillotine machines until adequate guards were installed. She also issued an Improvement Notice instructing the company to acquire competent health and safety advice.

“Advice on writing risk assessments is readily available and this process should have identified the inadequacy of the machines’ guarding. Had Mr Whiffin been familiar with these machines and correctly identified the risks, the incident could have been avoided,” said inspector Woodcock.€

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How far does one have to go to ensure competance, Bob?
The Advisor presumably advertised himself as competant for this activity and was trading in the field. He took the money, so rightly should take the blame. Since a suit would be under Civil Law and the outcome based on the balance of probabilities, I’ll put my money on PFG Ltd. Unless the readers know different…


No doubt the RA would state in the controls that a daily inspection would be made of the guards and this inspection be audited by a Supervisor on a scheduled routine. Furthermore it suggests no maintenance records for the guards. Simple controls. The same RA should have listed in the controls the prohibition of being at the rear of the machine and at the rear of machine whilst setting without isolating. It mentions nothing as to the standard of training competence for the operators.


Make’s you wonder was Mr Whiffin a competent person with the right qualifications.
what took place after the first incident, ??? was the risk assessment updated and what about the Safe syetem of work. (Easily avoidable)


Does anyone know if he was a member or IOSH. If so, what action did they take


Its a shame that others do not?

I know a little about construction, as I have never worked in anything other than that field.

But even I can read an operating manual, and I can probably find operating guidance
online with little effort I imagine?

In regard to Advisor or Consultant, it matters not. What counts is competence to advise or consult surely?


I hope so otherwise he was not eligable to trade as a consultant?
He needed to be on an approved list of consultants to validate competence.

And those employing him would have failed to appoint an approved consultant if he were not on such a list?

A lack of familiarity with the equipment in question seems to be the failure given the statement by HSE. He should have read the operating manual, or looked it up online.
He obviously coud,nt be arsed, or thought himself above such effort.


On your first point, I have no idea?

On the secound point, I would hope so too.

I was often amazed at the lack of knowledge of advisors when questioning them as an HSE Inspector, yet my PI often made no comment post interview regarding the evident lack of competence.

If you put yourself on a pedestal its a long drop when you are knocked off.

That`s why I know JS, less distance to fall that way?


I congratulate the HSE for this prosecution of the SHE Advisor.

Do you suppose that PFG Ltd have grounds to sue the Advisor for poor advice?

Or are thay guilty of not ensuring his competence to advise?

People who take money for giving poor advise are not that rare, but this gives me a glimer of hope that restitution does not rest with god alone?


Bob, I followed the article and described him as an ‘Advisor’. Nowhere is he refered to as a ‘consultant’, meaning that he was/is unlikely to be on the consultants register.
I’m an advisor in my hyper-specialist field but lack the more generalist OSH qualifications to be on the consultants register. I do, however, know my limits!


That is interesting. I hope that it gets dealt with and that the 2 guys get the help that they need.I would hate for something like that to happen.