Engineering Firms Warned About Interlocking Guards

Firm Fined And Ordered To Improve Following Accident


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned engineering businesses not to take chances when it comes to using potentially dangerous machinery.

There have been numerous cases in the past few months where people have been seriously injured because interlocking guards have been removed or disabled.

HSE inspectors issued this latest reminder following a hearing at Bournemouth Magistrates' Court, where a machined components and engineering company was prosecuted for safety failings.

TG Engineering of Ferndown, Dorset was given a £4,000 fine and ordered to pay £8,369 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

In September 2012, an unnamed employee was lucky to avoid serious injury when a metal clamp and workpiece that was fitted to the machine he was using struck him at high speed.

The components hit him in the side of his body and although he was forced to miss work for a couple of weeks, the HSE insisted he was fortunate not to sustain a more long-term injury.

Having conducted an investigation, the HSE found the interlocking guard had been disabled on four machines throughout the factory.

Because of this, the man mistakenly entered a speed of 3,520 rpm on one of the Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) lathes, which was far too high.

Had the guards been in place, the machine would have been restricted to just 50 rpm. This would have prevented the metal pieces from being flung out.

The company was issued with a Prohibition Notice for each machine that had a missing guard and the HSE also sanctioned an Improvement Notice. TG Engineering has since complied with these measures.

HSE inspector Matthew Tyler said CNC machines are powerful and have the potential to cause serious harm. He also reiterated the importance of having adequate guards in place.

"Using the interlocking guards provided with the machine would have prevented access to dangerous parts and reduced the risk of ejection of materials and entanglement," he commented.

"The disabling of interlocks is a common failure in engineering companies and this prosecution should serve as a reminder to the risks involved."