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May 25, 2012

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Machine’s safety interlock was deliberately disabled

A component engineering company in Cheltenham has admitted safety failings after a worker was injured inside a machine, which had had its safety mechanism deliberately disabled.

Grzegorz Chylenski, 33, was working as a machine operator at PG Components Ltd’s factory when the incident took place, on 22 August last year. He was operating a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machine, which drills holes in components made for resale inside electrical goods.

The CNC machine was fitted with a safety mechanism, which stopped it running when its doors were opened. But the company had disabled its safety interlock by placing a male part into the female part of the lock. This allowed the doors to remain open while the machine was in operation, so workers could monitor the internal cycle.

On the day of the incident, Mr Chylenski accidentally dropped a component into the machine, through the open doors. He believed the machine had come to the end of a cycle, and he leaned inside to retrieve the part. As he did so, the moving parts of the machine reactivated and struck him on the head. He suffered a broken jaw and cuts to his face and ear. He was unable to return to work for five weeks owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector Dominic Goacher explained the company had put workers at risk by disabling the interlock. He said: “The law clearly states that employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees, which includes ensuring machinery and systems of work are safe.

“In this instance, PG Components Ltd clearly failed to ensure the safety of Mr Chylenski, with unfortunate consequences. This incident could have been avoided had the manufacturer’s safety device not been bypassed. Allowing the CNC machine to be used in this state puts operators at serious risk of injury, or even death.”

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12 years ago

Ohh! So you’ve reinstated the interlock now! That’s ok then isn’t it?
There wasn’t even a statement that the management and supervision at the company were going to be sent on training so that they fully understand their duties and responsibilities of H&S – most notably PUWER and s2 & s37 HaSaWA – which at least would indicate some intent to improve!
So, Mr Chylenski, it’s clear that your employer doesn’t give a fig for your wellbeing – find a good no-win-no-fee lawyer and nail them good

12 years ago

In mitigation, the firm said it reset the interlock immediately following the incident.

Unbelievable statement, that was the whole point of the preceeding accident, removal of a known safety device should surely incur more of a penalty?

Truely astounded!

12 years ago

A day after I comment on a pitiful fine when a worker lost an arm through management failings, another similar incident which resulted in far less injury results in a higher fine! If it wasn’t ridiculous it would be funny! The HSE should use this evidence to insist upon consistency by liaising with the judiciary?
Another east european with high work ethic getting injured through low safety standards! Exploitation by management perhaps. Coincidence? More management prosecutions needed please!