Manufacturing Company Sanctioned After Colleague Loses Arm

Late into March 2023 a company specializing in the making of machinery designed for handling and lifting was handed a large sanction by the Health and Safety Executive after a colleague occupying the important position of mobile service engineer was pulled into the mechanism of a piece of equipment. The incident had a severe impact on the member of the workforce. As a direct consequence, the professional needed amputation surgery on his left arm. To make an example of the business regulatory body the Health and Safety Executive dished out a financial sanction of over eighty-five thousand pounds.   

What Happened In The Case?

The member of the workforce had been carrying out his ordinary routine and was maintaining a piece of industrial equipment at a client of a manufacturing business. Some features positioned on the machinery designed to protect colleagues from a safety perspective were absent during the incident. Alarmingly the machine motors appear to have been still in operation whilst the maintenance operation was taking place on the equipment. Matters appear to have deteriorated rapidly when the engineering professional found himself being hauled into the internal workings of the piece of manufacturing machinery. In the incident, the member of the workforce sustained compression-related injuries and seems to have had his arm on the left-hand side of his body mangled within the machine. The engineering professional’s symptoms were so severe that he sought independent medical advice. 
However, despite their best efforts to assist him in making a full recovery it was not to be a happy conclusion to the incident. The difficult decision was made to remove the damaged arm of the engineering professional which had been mangled in the equipment. To underline the seriousness of the injury, the limb was required to be removed from the elbow. The incident has impacted the engineering professional. He feels like he has a phantom-limb, and needs to consume lots of medication to treat his symptoms. The professional communicated with the regulator his belief that his whole world has ended. He has been absent from the working environment, unable to carry out the work-related duties he was competent to do before the incident occurred, he has suffered a significant decrease in pay and he feels that the whole tragic incident has adversely impacted upon him from a mental health perspective.             

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

When the regulatory authorities probed into what had taken place in the working environment occupied by the business at the center of proceedings it found that the removal of the safety features had contributed to the incident. During the course of its investigation, the HSE found a similar serious incident had happened less than one year ago in the same location. However, instead of implementing oversight procedures, ensuring members of the workforce were competent to use equipment, and ensuring machinery was operated safely, colleagues were seemingly exposed to the likelihood of more incidents occurring.  

Feet to the Fire?

Eventually, the company was held to account for its misdemeanors it openly admitted to violations of section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This section places duties on companies to safeguard colleague welfare in the workplace. The Magistrates sitting in Sefton imposed a financial sanction of over eighty-five thousand pounds. 

Lessons Learned?

  • Companies may reduce the likelihood of such incidents from happening again by: 
  • communicating effectively with members of the workforce so information on how to operate equipment is widely understood
  • preventing colleagues from accessing dangerous parts of machines
  • ensure safeguarding features are not removed from machinery and
  • provide tuition on the use of machinery. 

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