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Worker loses hand after cloth entangled in machinery

A UK manufacturer of brick products, Ibstock Brick Ltd, has been fined for safety breaches after a worker’s hand was entangled and wrapped around the rotating shaft on a lathe.

North Staffordshire Justice Centre heard how, on 28 February 2020, a maintenance engineer was in the process of polishing a metal shaft as it rotated in a manual lathe, using an emery cloth directly by hand and whilst wearing gloves. The emery cloth became entangled around the rotating shaft and dragged the engineer into the lathe resulting in his hand being severed in the machine.

The engineer subsequently underwent surgical amputation below the elbow.

The HSE’s investigation found that:

  • There were failures in the arrangements and controls for the task performed.

  • The risk assessment in place was not suitable and sufficient in that it did not properly assess or address entanglement risk associated with the direct manual application of emery cloth to the workpiece or the use of gloves.

  • There was inadequate training, instructions and supervision to ensure that the risks from entanglement with gloves or the emery cloth were prevented.

Ibstock Brick Ltd of Audley Road, Newcastle under Lyme pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and have been fined £530,000 with costs of £4,548.20.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Marie-Louise Riley-Roberts said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to assess risk and devise safe methods of working in which their employees should then be instructed and trained. If Ibstock Brick Ltd had, had effective managerial arrangements in place for the task undertaken and ensured their employees were following a safe system of work, based upon risk assessment, safe systems of work, supervision, information, instruction and training, then the life changing injuries sustained by this worker could have been prevented.”

HSE December 2021


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