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August 10, 2009

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Worker was pinned inside unguarded conveyor

A factory worker sustained broken ribs after being trapped on a moving conveyer, while trying to remove a blockage.

Chester Magistrates’ Court heard on 30 July that Stephen Shore had been attempting to clear a blockage of metal swarf from a conveyor, which was positioned underneath an automatic saw.

The incident happened on 20 February 2008 at the premises of Calder Industrial Materials, which manufacturers lead products. Mr Shore was using the saw to cut rolls of lead sheeting into various sizes for use as construction materials.

The lead is cut on a tipping table, and the excess metal falls on to a conveyor, and is transported to a collection area. A large amount of debris began to build up on the conveyor, causing a blockage, which Mr Shore tried to clear by crawling underneath the machine to brush away thefragments. But he had not isolated the machine, and while he was leaning over the conveyor the tipping table came down on his back and pinned him against a metal bar.

A colleague noticed he was in trouble and switched off the machine, but was unable to free him. Fire-fighters attended the scene and released Mr Shore, who was taken to hospital and received treatment for two cracked ribs and a bruised heart. He was able to return to work four days later.

Calder Industrial Materials pleaded guilty to breaching reg.11(1) of PUWER 1998, for failing to prevent access to the dangerous part of the machine. It was fined £4500 and ordered to pay full costs of £1050.

The firm mitigated that it had no previous similar convictions and has subsequently installed an interlock gate and guarding to prevent employees from accessing the conveyor.

HSE inspector Bruce Jones said: “Mr Shore was badly injured because Calder Industrial Materials failed to prevent him from gaining access to dangerous machinery.

“Fixed guards and a padlocked gate should have prevented Mr Shore from entering the machine and accessing the underside of a tipping table, which is used to tip debris on to a conveyor belt. But the guards and gate were not installed until after the incident.”

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