An absence of adequate guarding on a foil wrapping machine was found to be the cause of injury to a woman working for a Thorntons factory in Derbyshire. The woman had been attempting to clean the machine with a cloth during a break in production, when the cloth became trapped in rotating parts, dragging her hand into the machine.
She suffered a fractured finger that kept her off work for ten weeks. The incident prompted an audit of the other machines at the plant which found that the foil wrapping machine was not the only one with safety measures that had slipped below legal requirements.
The Health and Safety Executive released a statement saying that the company had effectively been asking their employees to work on dangerous machines, and that this accident had been entirely foreseeable and preventable.
Regular risk assessments and adequate health and safety training are absolutely essential if employers are to avoid these kinds of incidents that put their workers’ lives and limbs at risk, while also exposing them to prosecution and substantial fines. The number of accidents in the UK last year rose, and the HSE has asked employers to make their workers’ safety a priority in 2012.