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September 1, 2010

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Factory bosses knew machine safeguards weren’t operational

The owners of a manufacturing company appeared in front of magistrates to answer charges relating to an incident in which an employee had his fingers crushed in a hydraulic press.

The 57-year-old employee was working at Lupton Fabrication Ltd’s factory in Leeds when the incident took place, on 16 April 2009. He was operating a hydraulic press to create metal-edge trim, which is used to measure the thickness of setting concrete.

He was positioning a piece of metal on the press when it fell on the floor. He reached down to pick it up and placed his hand on the bottom beam of the machine. As he lifted the metal sheet with his other hand it fell on the machine’s control bar and activated the press. The jaws of the machine came down on his right hand and severed the tips of two of his fingers – an injury that prevented him from returning to work for eight weeks.

The HSE’s investigation found that although the press had light curtains, which were meant to isolate the machine if a worker’s hand entered the jaws of the machine, these were not operational at the time of the incident. Furthermore, the company’s owners, Dennis Brunt and Peter Critchard, were aware they had not been working for a number of years.

On 28 May 2009, the HSE issued two Prohibition Notices, which required the company to take steps to prevent employees from being able to access the dangerous parts of two presses at the site.

HSE inspector Angus Robbins said: “This incident is unacceptable. This employee lost his fingertips but he could have lost most of his hand and suffered severe injury.

“Preventing access to dangerous moving parts by having operational guards, or other protective devices, is essential. The standards of protection for hydraulic presses are well known within engineering businesses. The fact the light curtains were in place and were readily repaired following the serving of the Prohibition Notices means this terrible incident could have been prevented.”

Lupton Fabrication Ltd is no longer trading and its assets were bought by Stealsafe Ltd, which is also owned by Brunt and Critchard. Stealsafe Ltd has encountered financial difficulties and is in the process of going into liquidation.

Brunt and Critchard appeared at Leeds Magistrates’ court on 27 August and both pleaded guilty to breaching s37(1) of the HSWA. They were each fined £1000 and £250 in costs. They also pleaded guilty to breaching reg.11(1) of PUWER 1998 on behalf of Stealsafe Ltd. The company was fined £1 due to its lack of means.

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13 years ago

Apalling behaviour by the business owners and apalling fines for such scant regard for employee safety.
Again we see busines closure as an excuse for a pathetic £1 fine – I am sure we will see these individuals running businesses soon if not already. And most likely with inadequate risk control again……..