Manufacturer in court after worker loses arm

An animal feed supplement manufacturer has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker lost his arm after it was pulled into machinery.

Frederick Sharp, 71, of Stamford, had to have his right arm amputated after the incident at UFAC (UK) Ltd’s plant in Oakham, Rutland on 14 January 2014.

Leicester Magistrates Court

Leicester Magistrates Court

Leicester Magistrates Court heard today (4 June), that Mr Sharp was adjusting a belt on a production line conveyor feeding a bagging point. He removed a guard to access the adjusting screw when his arm was drawn into the in-running nip between the belt and roller.

He suffered extensive injuries to his right arm, resulting in amputation to below the shoulder. His also suffered multiple fractures to his right hip and leg which required surgery to insert a pin and plate.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found that the company had failed to ensure measures were taken to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

HSE had taken previous enforcement against UFAC (UK) Ltd for similar failings three years prior to the incident. In January 2011 the company was issued with a Prohibition Notice preventing access underneath a running conveyor because fixed guards were not in place to prevent the risk of being drawn into or trapped in moving machinery.

UFAC (UK) Ltd, Waterwitch House, Exeter Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, was fined £8,000 with £1,633 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Judith McNulty-Green said:

“This was an entirely preventable incident. The dangers of nip points, or the gaps between a moving belt and a stationary part of a machine, are well-known.

“UFAC (UK) Ltd should have ensured guarding suitable for the maintenance of the machine was in place. It is important that companies recognise the need for and implement safe machinery guarding, not just for operator safety but also for safety during maintenance.

“UFAC (UK) Ltd had previously been warned by HSE specifically about the importance of guarding a conveyor and if they had applied the principles of effective guarding to other conveyors this incident could have been prevented.

“Instead, as a result of the company’s failings, Mr Sharp suffered serious life-changing injuries.”

Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that measures are taken to (a) prevent access to any dangerous part of machinery or to any rotating stock-bar; or (b) to stop the movement of any dangerous part of machinery or rotating stock-bar before any part of a person enters a danger zone.”

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