Manufacturers Warned About Making Changes To Machines

Fabric Company Fined After Worker Breaks Bones In His Foot And Ankle


Manufacturing companies have been warned about the dangers of making changes to the way machines operate.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has told business owners they must consider safety implications and the possible consequences of any modifications they make.

This message was delivered shortly after a fabric company was fined £8,000 for its role in an accident that left an unnamed 25-year-old employee with broken bones in his left foot and ankle.

AMR Textiles of Kearsley, Greater Manchester, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 during a hearing at Trafford Magistrates' Court. The firm was also asked to cover prosecution costs of £10,103.

An investigation by the HSE found the man had climbed into a tower to remove loose strands of fabric when his leg was dragged into the machine by the rollers he was standing on.

It emerged that a colleague had used an override key to test another part of the equipment, but the rollers the injured man was using also started to operate.

The company had given each supervisor an override key in 2010, which essentially disabled the guards while they conducted maintenance and cleaning.

According to the HSE, this breached health and safety guidelines and an interlock that was fitted to prevent the rollers from working while the access hatch was open was not working when the accident occurred.

HSE inspector David Norton said AMR Textiles failed to conduct regular checks to see if the hatch interlock was functioning properly.

"The worker should never have been able to climb into the tower while the machine could still be operated," he commented.

"It is vital manufacturers think carefully about the potential consequences of making changes to machines or safety procedures, as they risk putting employees' lives in danger."

Since the incident in June 2012, the company has replaced the fibre tower with a machine that prevents internal access.

The HSE is keen to see improvements in the manufacturing industry's safety record. Over the past five years, an average of 31 workers have died annually in occupational accidents across the sector.