Polishing on lathes still causing injuries at work, £400k fine

When you start out in health and safety you usually end up on a 10 day NEBOSH Certificate and this is often taught in a college.  You all file down to an old engineering workshop and are told about holding emery cloth on lathes and the terrible injuries it can cause.

However, you suspect that when you get into industry proper you won’t see such an obvious breach of the Regs and good common sense… how wrong you were.

These accidents are as old as lathes themselves but we’re still seeing the awful injuries which result from them, read on to find out more and perhaps make this the subject of a toolbox talk or take a quick walk down to engineering and just do a double check for used pieces of emery cloth…

Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd has been fined £400,000 after a workman suffered serious injuries whilst carrying out repair work on a lathe.

The 59 year old worker from Ellesmere Port suffered fractures and crush injuries to his right hand and was off work for 5 months after carrying out repair work to a lathe the 20th July 2015.

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard  on 5 December that while he was repairing the lathe  he noticed that the shafts and couplings were dirty decided to clean these parts by wrapping an emery cloth around the lead screw with the lathe under power.   This resulted in the rotating machine parts pulling him to the moving parts of the machine.

The company pleaded guilty to a breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 And ordered to pay costs of £7,683.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Karen Fearon said:

“The Defendant had developed a Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) but failed to ensure that the system had permeated all parts of the organisation. If the HSMS had been followed this accident may not have occurred.

Maintenance was being carried out on machinery which was energised whilst someone was in the dangerous part of that machine. There was no lock off, poor control and poor management. Prior to maintenance the equipment was not shutdown, isolated and residual energy released and secured with a means to prevent inadvertent reconnection (e.g. by locking off with a padlock) as it should have been.”

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