Metal firm put productivity before safety
A company in Tamworth has admitted encouraging staff to bypass a safety interlock on an industrial oven in order to increase productivity.
Burton-on-Trent Magistrates’ Court heard that a 24-year-old worker at Enviro-Strip (UK) Ltd suffered serious burns as a result of a flash fire, which occurred when he prematurely opened an industrial oven.
The specialised oven was being used to remove paint from metal in a low-oxygen environment, so the metal could be used as parts for the automotive industry. The oven decomposes the paint at a temperature of 400oc and it had a safety interlock in place to ensure that the door could not be opened until the temperature dropped below 260oc.
But the oven’s interlock had been deliberately bypassed so that it could be opened at any point, which allowed the firm to put metal in the oven while it was at maximum temperature instead of waiting for the machine to cool down. This meant that each load could spend less time in the oven than was previously thr case.
On 19 March 2010, a worker opened the oven door while the machine was still at its optimum temperature, which resulted in a flash fire when the outside oxygen reacted with the paint. He suffered burns to his face, arm, neck and left hand and was airlifted to hospital. He spent four days in a medically-induced coma and was unable to return to work for three months owing to his injuries. He has been instructed by doctors to avoid staying out in sunlight, as his skin is now too sensitive.
HSE inspector, Gail Pannell, told SHP that the company should have been aware of the risks created by allowing the machine’s safety interlock to be bypassed. She said: “This was a very serious, entirely preventable incident that could easily have been fatal and left a man on a life support machine. He is extremely lucky to have recovered from his injuries.€
Webinar: Wellbeing by numbers
Catch-up or listen again to this session:
- Learn how to use data to shape your workplace wellbeing strategy;
- Hear evidence of the impact that wellbeing has on productivity and bottom line;
- Get expert advice on the challenges of implementing a data-led wellbeing strategy and how to overcome them;
- Understand how the changing priorities and pressures of the pandemic have influenced wellbeing programmes;
- Walk away with a health & wellbeing toolkit that will help you implement and evaluate your wellbeing strategy.
Join Westfield Health CEO, Dave Capper, Professor Jeff Breckon from the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University and Sky Wellbeing Health & Fitness Manager Alistair Hugo, now...