Company Prosecuted After Worker Loses Arm

Life-Changing Injury Suffered By Worker At Recycling Plant

07.10.2014

A company in Ayrshire has been hit with a huge fine after one of its staff lost his arm as he tried to clear a blockage on a conveyor belt.

The incident occurred in February 2011 at the Irvine premises of Lowmac Alloys, when Steve Dawson, who was aged 28 at the time, opened an unsecured hinged guard to access a blockage on the conveyor belt, only for his hand and arm to come into contact with the belt and the bottom of the pulley.

As a result, the machine tore his arm off at the shoulder, with surgeons being unable to reattach it.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found the company had fallen short of taking the steps needed to protect Mr Dawson and other staff from the dangers the machinery posed.

It identified four issues in particular, including a failure to provide interlocking guarding that would stop dangerous parts of machinery moving before a worker could reach them and a lack of supervision to ensure staff did not enter danger zones while parts were still moving.

The firm also failed to establish a safe system of working to clear blockages that included isolating the machine from electrical power and did not carry out an adequate risk assessment for the conveyor belt.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard that the HSE had served a deferred prohibition notice to the company in 2003 regarding the lack of guarding on another conveyor belt.

Ayr-based Lowmac Alloys pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 2(2)(a) and (c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £118,000.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Mark Carroll said: "Lowmac Alloys Ltd had identified there was a high risk of crushing and trapping in the machinery.

"However, the company failed to provide interlocking guarding to the gate over the conveyor which would have cut power to the machinery when it was opened.

"Had this been in place, then employees would not have been exposed to the risk from the dangerous parts of the machine."