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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
October 12, 2011

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Young worker lost arm in waste-screening machine

A 20-year-old worker had to have his left arm amputated after it was drawn into an unguarded piece of machinery at an organic-waste composting factory in Northern Ireland.

A court heard that the shovel driver had been loading organic waste into a screening machine on 29 June 2010 at Natural World Products in Keady, Co. Armagh. During his daily check routine, he had noticed a twig underneath the conveyor of the screener. However, when he reached in to try to remove it, his left arm was dragged into the machine and came into contact with an unguarded rotating conveyor drum. His injuries were so severe that the arm had to be amputated.

Kevin Campbell, the HSENI inspector who investigated the incident, told SHP that the original guard had been removed on a previous occasion and modified by being cut smaller so that it was easier for maintenance staff to access the internal working of the machine while it was running to replace bearings on the conveyor belt. 

“The company should have either left the guard on, or adapted and refitted it so that it covered all the dangerous moving parts of the machine,” he said. 

The company mitigated that it had since taken corrective action by refitting the guard. The employee is back at work in his original job and the loading shovel has been modified for his needs.

Inspector Campbell concluded: “It is essential that companies identify and address hazards within the workplace.  Measures must be taken to control and limit access to dangerous moving parts of machines. 

“Companies must ensure that maintenance teams are trained in identifying missing or defective guards and in the importance of replacing guards that are removed during maintenance operations.”

Natural World Products was fined £5000 by Newry Crown Court on 7 October after pleading guilty to breaching Article 4 of the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 by failing to provide a safe system of work. It was also told to pay full prosecution costs of £1500.

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10 years ago

The guard was modified to make maintenance easier!! or should that read – to make maintenance quicker and cheaper – an a man now has only one arm at the age of 20. Is it not time that the managers, or owners, who authorise these modifications were made to take personal responsibility under law and be put in front of a judge.

10 years ago

Completely agree cutting corners to save time/money on maintenance is the root cause here. Companies need to realize that trying to increase productivity in a manner like this can have serious repercussions.