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An absence of effective safeguards on machinery can have devastating consequences

Posted: January 17th, 2012 by Dermot comment-icon Comments disabled

Factory workers are exposed to a particular risk as they carry out their jobs. They work with often very large machines that can pose a significant risk to life and limb if they are not fitted with the correct safeguards, including:

• Conveyors must be bolted into position, and the machine must cut the power supply should the conveyor be removed.

• Guarding should be put in place to prevent operators from gaining access to the machine while it can still be used.

These kinds of measures are usually outlined in industry guidelines and potential risks are easily identified if a thorough risk assessment is carried out.

Failing to follow guidelines can have devastating consequences, as a case at a plastic products factory in Cornwall illustrates. An experienced technician entered a pressing machine via an unguarded gap where a conveyor belt had been removed. The machine began to operate while the man was still inside, crushing him between the plates used for making plastic lids.

This failure to protect employees has cost both the company and its employee dearly. The technician paid with his life, while the company has been ordered to pay £160,000 in fines for breaches and £32,000 for prosecution costs.

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