Company Prosecuted After Worker's Ankle Crushed

Loughborough Company Fined For Machine Safety Failings

31.10.2014

A company in the East Midlands has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over an incident that led to one of its staff suffering a broken ankle.

The 46-year-old, who asked not to be named, was working to flush lubricant substances out of a grease unit on a woodworking machine at the premises of Advance Display in Loughborough on January 28th when the accident occurred.

He asked a colleague to switch the machine on and when this happened, the device immediately activated a pre-programmed movement, which saw it advance forward and trap the victim's foot between the base plate and moving bed.

The injured man was left with a badly crushed ankle joint that required two operations. He was off work for five months and although he is able to walk unaided, he will never regain full movement in the joint.

An HSE investigation found that the machine had been used in conjunction with a remote control device in the past, but this had been broken for more than three years and never replaced. This meant when the second member of staff had to manually control the machine, he was not in a position to see that his colleague was standing too close to it.

The company admitted a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in the court hearing. It was fined £15,000 with costs of £2,677.

Commenting on the verdict after the case, HSE inspector Berian Price remarked: “The incident was entirely preventable and stemmed from a failure to keep the remote control pendant - a relatively inexpensive piece of equipment - in good repair and efficient working order. This, coupled with the lack of a safe system of work, led to a man needlessly suffering an extremely severe injury."

He went on to describe the company's actions as "grossly negligent".

According to HSE figures, around 400,000 people a year are injured by machinery in the workplace.

Expert Opinion
Health and safety should always remain a top priority at work, but all too often we see cases such as this, where workers have been put in danger or suffered serious injuries at work due to health and safety failings. In this incident a man suffered severe, life-changing injuries, which required significant medical treatment as a result of heavy machinery not being maintained to the correct standards.

“It is vital that all employers take note of this terrible case and ensure they comply with the very latest health and safety regulations so that the same unacceptable mistakes are not seen again."
Colin Ettinger, Partner